US Doubts Germany’s Willingness to Pressure Iran

A0202928.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Germany’s allies are dismayed that the German government has granted a German firm permission to supply three natural gas plants to Iran at the same time they’re trying to pressure Iran into suspending its nuclear program, US and European officials said Tuesday.

“The Germans are very wobbly, and certainly the French, the British and the Americans are quite worried,” said a European diplomat, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “Their spine needs to be stiffened. The more mixed messages, the more it plays into the Iranians’ hands.”

There is “significant concern” in the Bush administration over the $156 million natural gas deal, said a US official, who also requested anonymity, citing diplomatic sensitivities, Tehran Times reported.

The comments appeared to be an effort to pressure the German government to reconsider its decision by calling public attention to the deal.

Germany’s Federal Export Control Office announced Tuesday that after a yearlong review it’s approved a proposal by Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec to supply Iran with three plants that convert natural gas into a liquid.

News reports quoted a spokesman for the office as saying that the deal doesn’t violate the sanctions the UN Security Council has imposed on Iran for defying its demands to give up the NPT right of uranium enrichment.

Iran insists that its program is legal and intended to produce low-enriched uranium for power plants.

Tehran sent a letter to the six powers on Tuesday. While it reiterated a willingness to negotiate, the European diplomat said, the letter failed to respond to the so-called “freeze for a freeze” proposal.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

Iran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, and insists that it will continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Iran has repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed after it answered the UN agency’s questions about the history of its nuclear program.

The US is at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted the report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Not only Iranian officials, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

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