Monday, May 30, 2005

Are Iran's Arguments More Convincing for the EU than U.S. fears?

The talks held last week between the EU and Tehran in Geneva on Iran's nuclear program looked like they had been thoroughly orchestrated and it will be interesting to see what happens now.

The next episode is expected either on June 13, when the IAEA Board of Governors will meet, or after a new Cabinet is formed in Iran following the June 17 presidential elections.

At the concluding round of talks in Geneva, the EU proposed that Tehran submit for its consideration a general project of EU-Iran cooperation covering various aspects, including nuclear technology cooperation, within two months. The proposal, it must be admitted, was unexpected and contradicted the logic of the talks held in the past.

Tehran tried in vain to convince the EU that its nuclear program was absolutely peaceful, including the complete technological cycle of uranium enrichment it is developing. Tehran might have convinced the EU, if it had not been for the U.S., which continued to tell the Europeans about its fears that Tehran's assurances masked a desire to develop its own nuclear weapons. Therefore, the EU attempted to make Iran give up the idea of enriching uranium completely to ensure that its dossier was not transferred to the UN Security Council.

Thorn in the side of Iran's conservative Majlis

Masih Alinejad is a slight woman of 28 who instantly shows the nervous energy that has helped make her such a controversial figure in Iranian politics.

For a journalist to be called "rude" by politicians is hardly new. But for Ms Alinejad to be called "flirtatious" was deeply injurious in such a conservative Islamic country, and the accusation she stole deputies' pay slips for a story led to her expulsion last month from Iran's parliamentary lobby.

Ms Alinejad has no regrets. And she has now hit back with a political novel, Taj-e Khaar (Crown of Thorns), in reference to her first name, the Farsi equivalent of Jesus.

"I wanted to write a book that would interest people disillusioned with politics, so they know what's going on in the parliament," Ms Alinejad explains, during a break in the offices of ILNA, the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency.