Great efforts continue to be made to make Iran out to be a mortal danger, in accordance with plans laid long ago.  --  The latest development: on Saturday, London's Financial Times announced the discovery of "a document on how to shape uranium into hemispheres -- a procedure primarily used to engineer nuclear explosions."[1]  --  The document in question is more than twenty years old, but so what?  --  And now there's alleged "evidence" that "the Iranians have produced polonium, an element that has few uses other than in nuclear explosions"?  --  The polonium conundrum is doubtless causing lights to burn late in the Office of the Vice President . . . .   --   The American plan (the Bolton plan, really), cynically developed, relentlessly and patiently pursued, is believed by many to be this: Iran is to be referred to the Security Council, where an effort to obtain sanctions will be refused (inevitably, given Iran's right to do what it has done and Chinese and Russian support for Iran on the Council), presenting the administration with a situation in which the U.S. (or its proxy Israel) can claim a "duty" (all the more diligently exercised at a time when Americans are tempted to disbelieve in WMD threats because of the Iraq fiasco, etc. etc.) to engage in pre-emptive war in order to ensure the "national security" of the United States (and Israel), in which the victim will be blamed for the crime.  --  Iran took the unusual step on Friday of publishing a full-page ad in its own defense in the *New York Times* (Nov. 18, 2005, p. A11).  --  Entitled "An Unnecessary Crisis -- Setting the Record Straight about Iran's Nuclear Program," it begins with this introduction:  "In a region already suffering from upheaval and uncertainty, a crisis is being manufactured in which there will be no winners.  Worse yet, the hysteria about the dangers of an alleged Iran nuclear weapons program rest solely and intentionally on misperceptions and outright lies.  In the avalanche of anti-Iran media commentaries, conspicuously absent is any reference to important facts, coupled with a twisted reprensentation of the developments over the past 25 years.  Before the international community is led ot another 'crisis of choice,' it is imperative that the public knows all the fact and is empowered to make an informed and sober decision about an impending catastrophe" (New York Times, Nov. 18, 2005, p. A11)....

Middle East & Africa

By Daniel Dombey (Brussels), Caroline Daniel (Busan), and Gareth Smyth (Tehran)

Financial Times (UK)
November 18, 2005

Iran has provided the clearest indication yet that it may have tried to design nuclear weapons, despite years of official denials from Tehran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, says Tehran recently gave it a document on how to shape uranium into hemispheres - a procedure primarily used to engineer nuclear explosions.

But the IAEA adds that the information was in one of a series of documents mostly dating from the 1970s and 1980s. It says Iran insists that the information was supplied by its black-market supply network without having been requested by Tehran itself. The document was related "to the casting and machining of enriched, natural and depleted uranium metal into hemispherical forms", the IAEA says in a report to its board.

The revelations will raise the pressure on Tehran before an IAEA board meeting next week, expected to consider referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council over its record of concealing its nuclear programme.

The IAEA has already sifted through evidence that the Iranians have produced polonium, an element that has few uses other than in nuclear explosions. The U.S. has also shown its partners what it says is intelligence data demonstrating that Iran has sought to "weaponize" its uranium production. But Britain, France, and Germany, which have led a European Union effort to reach a deal, are reluctant to "rush" the issue to New York while hope remains of a diplomatic breakthrough.

"These are matters for the IAEA to investigate further and report to the board of governors," said a British spokesman. "They only serve to reinforce existing concerns about Iran's true intentions regarding its nuclear program." Javad Vaeedi, deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Iran welcomed the report's "legal and technical approach."

At present, diplomatic efforts are focused on a Russian compromise, which Tehran has received coolly but not yet formally rejected. The proposal would permit Iran to carry out some uranium processing on its own territory but ensure that the most sensitive phase -- uranium enrichment -- takes place abroad.

Officials from the EU3, Russia, China, and the U.S. met in London to discuss the issue yesterday. The U.S. also said the Russian proposal "may provide a way out" of the impasse in talks over Iran's nuclear program.

Speaking after a meeting in South Korea between President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Stephen Hadley, U.S. National Security Adviser, said: "If we didn't think it was acceptable, we probably wouldn't encourage it to be explored." He added that the proposal, in which Iran would have a role in an enrichment facility in Russia, "would give Iran a sense that it would have an assured fuel supply for its civil nuclear power program . . . This will be an issue that we will return to with the Iranians."

However, Iran said yesterday it had begun converting a second batch of raw uranium into gas, an initial phase in the fuel cycle that the IAEA has called on Tehran to suspend.

Tehran has stressed its willingness for "unconditional" talks over its nuclear program, while officials have publicly opposed any plan to carry out enrichment outside the country.