THE outcome of an hectic week of negotiations in Vienna and Teheran between the Europeam Union foreign ministers and Iran's new government over Iran's nuclear programme was at best a no-score draw and more probably a narrow win for the home side. For its part Iran restarted its nuclear activities at its Isfahan facility under the eyes of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) and in doing so established beyond any doubt that thus far its programme has been entirely legal within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Pact. From the EU's standpoint it obtained a resolution at the 35-member IAEA expressing “serious concern” about Iran's resumptions of its activities but not even mentioning the possibility of a reference to the UN Security Council, a move which the United States has been seeking for some time. Furthermore the package of incentives put together at short notice by Britain, France and Germany to encourage Iran to resume its voluntary standstill on the uranium conversion process was rejected summarily by the new Iranian government. The newly installed President Ahmadinejad has said that he wants to continue negotiations and President Bush has said that he is glad to hear that. The reality, however, is that Iran will probably go ahead with what they claim vehemently is a programme for the peaceful uses of nuclear power while the United States and the EU continue to worry that Iran really wants to build a bomb secretly with Israel in its sights. PP It is hardly surprising that there is little or no instinctive trust between the two sides. The United States interfered disastrously in Iran until as recently as 1979 and later backed Iraq in its brutal war with Iran. Iranian activists took over the US Teheran embassy and humiliated President Carter; it is believed that President Ahmadinejad was one of those activists and doubts arose last week about whether the US would issue a visa to enable him to attend the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September. The doubts have been removed but, curiously, no one has asked why the president of a sovereign state should have to possess a US visa in order to attend a meeting of the United Nations!


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