Iran Hardens Its Line

From an interview with Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the nonproliferation and disarmament program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies:

Q: What is your view of the report released September 2 by the IAEA regarding Iran's nuclear program?

A: Although the report confirms that Iran is moving ahead with putting centrifuges into its Fordow enrichment plant near the city of Qom and is installing a larger numbers of second-generation models at the Natanz facility, it has not yet installed any of the second-generation models. It seems that Iran is still testing their performance before doing this.

Q: Last week, Iran's director of its atomic energy agency, Fereydoon Abbasi, clarified Iran's policy regarding its nuclear fuel production. How do you interpret his statements?

A: I do not think Iran's statements are new. There are two messages: One, is that they are not going to compromise on their enrichment. This is something the regime has been saying for years. Second, their line has hardened and Abbasi is saying they will not negotiate on a fuel swap proposal.

Abbasi's statements put into words what Iran has been doing in deeds. Ever since the fuel swap proposal was rejected, Iran has been bent on higher enrichment of 20 percent and Abbasi is saying this is now Iran's official policy. Iran is also saying they are not being deterred by their march toward acquiring more advanced technology. Back in the beginning of the calendar year, they said they would be introducing more efficient centrifuges to the Fordow fuel enrichment plant. In June, they said they would be increasing the number of second-generation centrifuges at the Natanz facility. Now, it is evident they are putting them in Fordow.

Abbasi is putting into words what has been Iran's policy, but that does not mean it cannot shift its position in the future. Yet, it is getting harder to see any willingness on the part of Iran to talk about anything that would be productive in terms of confidence-building measures.