U.S. Talks With Iran In Vienna

The Obama administration has been intensifying pressure on Tehran leading up to international talks next Monday on Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium. Clinton again warned that the US expected action by Iran following its meeting with the so-called P5+1 (the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) on October 1. The Obama administration’s involvement in talks with Iran has been accompanied by threats U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates described as “severe additional sanctions against Iran”.

Monday the British government ordered financial services to end all transactions with Iran’s Bank Mellat and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines for their involvement with Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Clinton’s trip was to combine Russian support for tougher sanctions on Iran. Last month Obama modified of the planned US anti-missile systems, closing bases in the Czech Republic and Poland that had been opposed by Russia. Iran agreed to send most of its existing stock of low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment and then to France for fabrication into fuel rods for a research reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes. This would end claims that Iran has  enough enriched uranium to build a bomb.

The meeting in Vienna is designed to thrash out details of the plan. The US has already made clear that it will adopt an aggressive stance. The Obama Administration states, “If they reject it, it is another data point that says, ‘Look, these guys are not serious’.” Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, has warned that if talks failed, “Iran will enrich uranium to the 20 percent level needed for the Tehran reactor itself.”

Iran has agreed to open its enrichment plant near the city of Qom to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors. This is the plant Obama seized on the Qom facility at the G-20 summit on September 25. The first IAEA inspection of the Qom plant is scheduled for October 25. A further high level meeting between the P5+1 and Iran is to take place before the end of October. President Obama has declared that December is the deadline for the conclusion of any negotiations with Iran. The US maintains close relationship with the Israeli government, which has repeatedly warned of military strikes against Iran’s nuclear plants. The US and Israeli militaries are currently engaged in joint military exercises code-named “Juniper Cobra” (specifically to test missile defence systems in the event of war.) More than 1,000 American troops and some 15 US missile warships are involved.

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