by Ray Fleming

Negotiation with Iran is far from easy as the frequent breakdowns of its talks with the UN International Atomic Energy Agency show. This week another carefully prepared inspection visit by the Agency has had to be declared a failure because of Iran's refusal to agree to a visit by the Agency's inspectors to a site at Parchin which they believe may have been used for tests on producing a nuclear weapon. Iran said Parchin is a military base unrelated to its nuclear programme. Further, there was still no response from Iran to number of technical questions posed by the Agency at its last visit several weeks ago but left unanswered then. So the inspectors packed their bags and said they will report officially on the visit next week. But they had hardly left Tehran before Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei made a speech to nuclear scientists which was broadcast on state TV. He praised the scientists for their dedicated work but then said this: “The Islamic Republic is not seeking nuclear weapons and considers possession of them a sin. They are useless, harmful and dangerous and do not bring power.” It is frequently said that the Iranian government is beset with serious policy disagreements and that the Ayatollah is at odds with President Ahmadinejad on nuclear policy. Does the supremacy of his leadership extend to this vitally important issue?

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