September 13, 2011

September is a big month for Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will travel to the UN General Assembly meeting next week, Iran finally launched its long-delayed nuclear plant at Bushehr this week, and on September 2 the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, published their quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. The latest report has fueled the usual rhetoric from Tehran and Washington, with each side interpreting it to suit their political agendas. But Iran’s boasting and U.S. hardline rhetoric both appear out of step with the actual status of Iran’s nuclear program,

Describing the report as "a positive step forward," Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, portrayed it as a testament to the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. He boasted that the document demonstrated Iran’s transparency and its atomic advances. In Washington, the report has fanned fears about Iran’s nuclear intentions. Sections on the possible military dimension of the program and Iran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment activities have caused particular alarm.

Once again, the UN nuclear watchdog agency has provided ammunition for those who aim to either demonize or lionize Iran and its controversial nuclear program. But the reality is more nuanced.

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