The Jan. 24 article, "Why US doesn't trust Iran on nukes," contains several objectionable points.
First, the article admits that the US did not object to the previous Iranian regime's "plans for 23 power reactors," but it says US officials do question Iran's justification for a much smaller nuclear industry today. Sure, Iran has oil reserves, but given the pace of its economic development, these will be depleted within two to five decades. With a territory of 1,648,000 square kilometers and a population of about 70 million - projected to be more than 105 million in 2050 - Iran has no choice but to seek more diversified and secure sources of energy.
Second, the article fails to mention that since December 2003 Iran has fully and voluntarily implemented the intrusive Additional Protocol of the IAEA, resulting in more than 1,400 "inspector-days" of inspection of civilian and military sites and in the resolution of the outstanding issues. The article's insinuation that there's an Iranian nuclear weapons program is completely baseless and flatly contradicted by the findings of IAEA, e.g., Paragraph 52 of the IAEA director general's November 2003 report, which states that "to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme." Mr. ElBaradei's November 2004 report also states: "All the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities." Moreover, Iran has repeatedly emphasized its moral and religious antipathy to nuclear weapons.
Third, Iran's resumption of nuclear research at Natanz is perfectly legal, represents the exercise of its "inalienable right" to peaceful nuclear technology, and was started under the full monitoring system of the IAEA.
Counselor, press section, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN
The IAEA pressed for Iran to sign the Additional Protocol in December 2003, due to the organization's concern about Tehran's concealment of important aspects of its nuclear program. The Natanz enrichment site, among others, had been hidden from IAEA inspectors until its exposure in 2002.
A November 2004 IAEA report says Iran failed several times to report nuclear material, its processing, and other activities, as stipulated by the Safeguards Agreement.
In keeping with the seriousness of its mission, the IAEA is a careful organization, which tries to base its conclusions on solid evidence. It remains concerned about Iranian nuclear activities, and after three years of intensive verification, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei still cannot judge whether Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. It is for these and other reasons that the IAEA referred Iran to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 4.
I find Douglas Borer's Jan. 24 Opinion piece, "Why not test bin Laden's 'truce' offer?," to be amazingly naive, both from the perspective of the mind-set of the Al Qaeda terrorists and from the basis for the anti- Americanism in the Middle East. Churchill described negotiating with a "crocodile" as merely determining whom he would eat last. Mr. Borer is right in pointing out that there are times for negotiating with terrorists, as we are doing with the Sunni insurgents. But when the objective seems to be dominance of the global arena, there isn't much negotiating room.
Little Rock, Ark.
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