- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

Iranian officials openly brag to one another about their success in fooling European Union negotiators into believing they had stopped their efforts to produce nuclear fuel, according to Hassan Rowhani, who until last last year headed talks with the European Union 3 — Britain, France and Germany.

“When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Tehran, we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site,” where Iran was installing equipment to process yellowcake — a key stage in the nuclear-fuel process, Mr. Rowhani said in a recent speech.

Mr. Rowhani noted that U.S. officials repeatedly warned their European colleagues of Iranian cheating, but the Europeans refused to listen. “From the outset, the Americans kept telling the Europeans, ‘The Iranians are lying and deceiving you, and they have not told you everything.’ The Europeans used to respond, ‘We trust them,’ ” Mr. Rowhani said in a speech to Iran’s Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution. “When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Tehran, we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site. There was plenty of work to be done to complete the site and finish the work there. In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan,” he said.

In September 2003, Mr. Rowhani said, Tehran faced a difficult decision when the International Atomic Energy Agency demanded a full picture of its nuclear activities. “The dilemma was if he offered a complete picture, the picture itself could lead us to the Security Council,” Mr. Rowhani said. “And not providing a complete picture would also be a violation…and we could have been referred to the Security Council.”

On March 6 — one day after the Rowhani interview was reported in the London Sunday Telegraph — IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei declared that a deal with Iran could still be reached. But unfortunately for Mr. ElBaradei, the Iranian government continues to behave in ways that make his upbeat remarks appear delusional, with officials threatening to impose oil embargos or take other actions aimed at harming American interests.

Even if Iran were to halt uranium enrichment and all other nuclear activities at Isfahan and its other known nuclear facilities that are partially supervised by the IAEA, it would not end the danger, because the regime apparently has a parallel, clandestine program that is also aimed at producing a nuclear weapon. Writing in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on Thursday, military correspondent Ze’ev Schiff reported that Western intelligence sources believe that this secondary program — conducted at smaller facilities around Iran and noted in several recent IAEA reports — is also making progress toward development of a nuclear weapon. Clearly, Iran shows no intention of abandoning its nuclear weapons programs.

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