In the past few weeks, a new story line on Iran has gained some currency. It goes something like this. The bluster of the provincial president doesn't truly reflect the mind-set of Iran's senior, grown-up leadership when it comes to acquiring nuclear weapons. If that's the case, someone should let Iran's senior clerics and chief nuclear negotiator in on the secret.
From the New York Times:
April 26, 2006
Senior Iran Cleric Tells Sudan That Nuclear Aid Is Available
TEHRAN, April 25 - Iran's supreme leader said Tuesday at a meeting here with the Sudanese president that Iran was ready to share its nuclear technology with other countries.
"Iran's nuclear capability is one example of various scientific capabilities in the country," the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said to President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, the news agency IRNA reported. "The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to transfer the experience, knowledge and technology of its scientists."
Mr. Khamenei made his comments just days before the Friday deadline set by the United Nations Security Council for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment.
At a conference on Tuesday in Tehran on its nuclear program, senior officials vowed that Iran would continue its enrichment activities.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said that in the event of Security Council sanctions, Iran would suspend cooperation with the United Nations nuclear agency. If there is a military strike aimed at destroying its facilities, Iran will simply hide its nuclear program, he added.
"You may inflict a loss on us, but you will lose also," he said.
Mr. Larijani said Iran was willing to cooperate if its case was returned to the International Atomic Energy Agency, but warned, "Do not expect us to act otherwise if you drag the case to the Security Council."
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a senior cleric and head of the powerful Expediency Council, speaking at the conference, denounced the role of the nuclear agency and said it had failed to support Iran's program.
"I am not saying that the agency has had bad intentions," he said. "But it has not fulfilled its duty to support countries to enjoy their right to have nuclear technology."
In other words, here's our "Grand Bargain": Let's us pursue our nuclear weapons in peace and quiet or we will give the Butcher of Darfur a nuclear boost.