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Uranium in the Mix: Friction between the U.S. and Iran

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has indicated his country may be ready to ship uranium abroad for enrichment, an action in line with a U.N.-backed proposal. Why now? The offer has been on the table since October of last year, but it seemed the leaders of Iran would never agree. For months, Iranian officials have criticized the plan proposed by the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany last year advising Iran to send out the bulk of its low-enriched uranium to be processed and returned as nuclear fuel to power its reactor. However, conservatives in Iran were bitterly disappointed with the president bid to quickly make concession to the West.

In an interview with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, President Ahmadinejad said, “Iran has the technology at its disposal to produce uranium enriched to the level that could be used as fuel, and now that Iran possesses that technology there is no problem in sending the uranium outside…some people made a fuss about it. There is no problem. We will seal a contract and we will give you 3.5 percent uranium to enrich it to 20 per ent levels in four or five months and return to us.”

This announcement comes a day after Iran opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi stated that he will continue his struggle against the government. At the Eve of the Republics 31st anniversary, one of the most important dates in Iran’s political calendar, Mousavi and reformist ally Mehdi Karroubi called on their supporters to attend political rallies. Musavi publicly stated that “the green movement will not abandon its peaceful fight…until people’s rights are preserved. Peaceful protests are Iranians’ right.” Mousavi also said that the Islamic revolution in Iran had failed to eradicate the “roots of tyranny and dictatorship” that he believed marked the shah’s era. He said he no longer believed, as he once did, “that the revolution had removed all those structures which could lead to totalitarianism and dictatorship.”

President Ahmadinejad announced his government would be willing work with the U.N. as Mussavi continues to rattle the saber of the green movement. Iran has successfully launched a probe into space with two turtles, a hamster and a worm on board. The Islamic republic unveiled three new satellites on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The U.S. and other Western nations believe that Iran’s space program is only a mask to cover its true purpose: the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles that would be capable of reaching the United States.

U.S. officials have said that they positioned Patriot batteries in four Gulf States: Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. U.S. anti-missile ships are also being stationed in the Gulf. However, Iran has criticized the U.S.’s move to expand the missile defense systems in the Gulf region.

The situation in the Middle East is very volatile already and the tension between Iran and the U.S. is only creating barriers for the rest of the region, drawing more lines in the sand.

Obama Takes Step Backward on Cuba

Republished with the permission of New America Media

The Obama administration took a step backward on U.S. relations with Cuba when it included it on a terrorist list. We urge the administration to reconsider this decision.

The list of 14 nations the United States considers either sponsors of terrorism or countries of interest includes Cuba and Saudi Arabia. U.S.-bound air passengers from these nations are to receive extra security checks, including pat-downs. This was in reaction to the Christmas day terrorism attempt during a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Last we understood, the attempted attack broke through because of a failure of national intelligence, not out of a terror campaign by Cubans. As is, the United States applies a long list of restrictions to Cuba under a decades-old embargo policy.

The U.S. State Department has said that Cuba harbors fugitives from justice and has supported Colombian and Basque rebel groups. The Cuban government disputes these claims or offers political rationalizations for individuals it brands as asylees.

But we know that if Cuba posed such a clear and present danger to the United States, that President Obama would not have relaxed some travel and other restrictions on Cuba, as he did last year. Representatives like Jose Serrano and Sam Farr have called for building on that momentum to change stagnant, ineffective policies toward Cuba.

In the context of the last eight years and specifically the events since Christmas day, the nation has been focused, and rightfully so, on terrorism campaigns against U.S. citizens. It makes sense that Saudi Arabia, where the Sept. 11 attackers trained, is included on that list.

While the Castro regime is not innocent, putting Cuba in the same league as Iran, for example, is unfair and undermines efforts towards a 21st century foreign policy.