October 20, 2007

Becoming Resigned

Sat Oct 20, 5:27am
TEHRAN(AFP, via Yahoo! News)- Iran's top negotiator on its controversial nuclear programme, Ali Larijani has resigned, the state news agency IRNA reported on Saturday, quoting the Islamic republic's government spokesman.
Elham added that Iran's meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will go ahead "as scheduled with the new head of supreme national security council," which was headed by Larijani as his official title.
Despite several meetings during the past year, Larijani and Solana have not overcome the deadlock over Tehran's refusal to suspend its sensitive uranium enrichment activities.
The West, led by the United States, believes that Iran's nuclear programme is cover for a drive to develop an atomic bomb, but Tehran insists it is for civilian objectives only.

If Iran wishes to transform itself now from an oil-producing economic power to an electrical-energy producing economic power by way of nuclear energy, then this is certainly the time to do it, while Iran's diminished supply of oil is still raking in huge amounts of cash that can be spent on such a far-sighted transformation.

In the years since the invasion of Iraq by the United States, the price of oil has risen from near $50 a barrel to nearer $90, lots of that profitable rise making its way into the Iranian economy. With all that money sloshing around in a system that is formally closed off in certain directions by international sanctions, things cost more in Iran over time. The cost of living there increases inexorably, and the general attitude so acutely labelled social unrest becomes intrinsic to all those increasingly unable to afford to live there at all.

If the belief on the part of the West, led by the United States, that "Iran's nuclear programme is cover for a drive to develop an atomic bomb" is a belief fueled by the incorrigible foriegn policy fantasies of the Bush Administration, then it is unlikely to be true in any meanigful sense, or, believed in one way or the other by anyone speaking for the Bush Administration on the matter, each of whom I personally suspect of having their own reasons for making any claim.

"Head of supreme national security council" is the official title of the position Mr. Larijani held until his resignation, according to the report by AFP. Perhaps there's a more acute translation of Mr. Larijani's job title; however it's said, introducing the blunt granduer of "supreme" into the mention of any arbitrary government job is not an uncommon move. Evidently this is the case in Iran, where millennia of government jobs have experienced the inflationary effect of introducing progressively more exalted terms for what was commonly called something else before, to the point where the significance of "supreme" itself, the logical end of such inflation, becomes deflated by regular use, and only the degree of utter generality expressed by the rest of the job title can lift it back up. The more general the rest of the title, the greater the degree of supremacy being claimed by its owner.

Mr. Larijani was given a portentious and succinct title, and a job he tried to resign from many times.

He mentioned on Wednesday that Vladimir Putin had floated a proposal to break the deadlock in the crisis when he spoke with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his visit to Iran earlier in the week.

On Friday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the Fars News Agency there was no nuclear proposal.

It's not clear where President Ahmadinejad got this idea, which contadicts what Mr. Laijani said just a few days before. Perhaps he was told to say it by supreme leader Ayatollah Khomenei for some reason. Maybe Putin asked him to say it. Or maybe he just came up with it on his own.

At any rate, Mr. Lijani is out, and Mr. Solana, who is tasked with reporting back by mid-November to a consortium of nations including Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States on Iran's willingness to forswear its uranium enrichment program, is left with no one to dance with at the present time.

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