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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ahmadinejad said to be pushing for open atom work

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Photo: AFP

'Reliable intelligence assessment' obtained by AP says Iranian president wants to continue with developing nuclear weapons openly but is opposed by Tehran's clerical leadership

The end to ambiguity? Iran's president wants to shed the nation's secrecy and forge ahead openly with developing nuclear weapons, but is opposed by the clerical leadership, which is worried about international reaction to such a move, an intelligence assessment hedged Friday.

That report, from what the Associated Press called "a nation with traditionally reliable intelligence from the region," could not be confirmed and it contrasts with assessments by other countries that view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as relatively moderate on the nuclear issue compared to the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Attempts to interpretIran's goals are important because as it expandsuranium enrichment, it is moving closer to being able to make a nuclear weapon, even as it asserts that it is not interested in such arms and its programs are geared only to making reactor fuel.

A US official cited one assessment he has seen suggesting Ahmadinejad may be more "moderate" — more open to talks with the international community on resolving nuclear concerns than Khamenei.

Pushing for a bomb
But a blunt comment by Ahmadinejad last month raises questions. While repeating that Iran does not want nuclear arms, he openly reinforced its ability to make them, telling Iranian state TV that "if we want to make a bomb, we are not afraid of anybody."

That defiant statement fits the scenario outlined by the intelligence assessment shared with the AP, depicting Ahmadinejad as wanting to move publicly to develop a nuclear program.


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Abbas: UN approval will allow us to treat Israel as equals

PA President Mahmoud Abbas

PA president says once Palestinians gain membership in UN, "we will surely resume peace talks with Israel."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday the Palestinianswere seeking membership in the United Nations so they could enter negotiations with Israel as equal partners.

Abbas said during a visit to Barcelona, Spain, that once the Palestinians gain membership in the UN, they would return to the negotiating table with Israel.

“We want to go to the UN and the Security Council to ask for membership of Palestine in the UN,” the official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted Abbas as saying.

“If we get a positive response, we will surely resume peace talks with the Israeli side over the various sticking issues, including borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, water and security.”

Abbas said the Palestinians “believe in freedom and the right to self-determination, and want to achieve a state through negotiations.”

Abbas’s adviser, Nimer Hammad, reiterated on Thursday there was no return from the decision to go to the UN in September to ask for a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines.

He also called on the Arab world to “double its diplomatic and political efforts to back the PA’s statehood bid.

“The decision to go to the UN is an Arab decision,” Hammad said, referring to last week’s decision by the Arab League foreign ministers to submit the request to the UN on behalf of the PA.

Hammad said if the PA wins the support of two-thirds of the UN members “it would be in a better position even if the US resorts to the veto in the Security Council. In this case, the status of Palestine in the UN would be similar to that of the Vatican.”

Hammad also dismissed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent statement that he was ready to meet with Abbas without preconditions as insignificant.

“Netanyahu did not bring anything new,” the adviser said. “We don’t accept meeting for the sake of photo-ops.”

Hammad added that the Palestinians would not return to the negotiations unless Israel halted construction in the settlements and accepted the 1967 “borders” as the basis for the peace process.

Jerusalem Post
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