Iran’s High Stakes Gambit

The AP via Iran Focus is reporting that Iranian Vice-President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh “signalled” that Tehran would no longer cooperate with the IAEA following his meeting with IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei:

Investigating such allegations “is outside the domain of the agency,” he said after meeting with ElBaradei. Any further queries on the issue “will be dealt with in another way,” he said, without going into detail.

At the same time, according to Alalam News, Aghazadeh expressed optimism regarding the possibility of reaching a negotiated settlement to the issue:

“Both sides have received the messages of the other side and are carefully studying the concerns and expectations of both sides.

“I am very hopeful that the negotiations will be started in a framework of both sides being fully committed to the expectations that are already there,” Aghazadeh added.

I mentioned previously that if Iran really wanted to pull the rug out from under the West’s negotiation position, it would provide the IAEA with full and transparent access to its nuclear program. In so doing, it would become compliant with its NPT obligations, thereby removing jurisdiction over the issue from the UNSC.

If the AP report is true, and that’s a big if, the Iranians seem to be taking the opposite approach. Most likely this will be spun as Iranian stonewalling, and it’s possibly the case. But it’s also possible this is an attempt to sweeten the pot on the diplomatic track by making it the only way the West has to contain the Iranian program. A lot will be clarified by the Iranians’ position at upcoming talks between Javier Solana and Saeed Jalili. If the Iranians are more forthcoming, stonewalling the IAEA is probably a tactic to promote the negotiation track. If not, it represents a pretty high stakes double or nothing on the part of Tehran, where nothing is basically a dare to launch a military strike.