“Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has decided to keep Iran’s nuclear program within limits demanded by Israel for now, according to senior U.S., European and Israeli officials, in a move they believe is designed to avert an international crisis during an Iranian election year,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “With a vote set for June, Mr. Khamenei is eager to place a leader more aligned with his positions than current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, without sparking a repeat of the nationwide unrest that followed a 2009 vote, these officials said. U.S. and European officials have worried Mr. Khamenei might challenge Israel and the U.S. over the nuclear issue to consolidate his political position. But instead of pressing an agenda that could heighten tensions between Tehran and the international community, the opposite is happening, for the time being, these officials said.”
Is the Journal’s report accurate? Is Iran really “cooling off” it’s nuclear program? Or is the regime in Tehran deceiving the world by developing other secret nuclear facilities, collaborating with North Korea on building nuclear weapons, and/or even buying warheads from Pyongyang?
“Mr. Khamenei’s approach is placing the Obama administration and its allies in a delicate strategic position, possibly constraining their response to Iran’s nuclear program. U.S., European and Israeli officials have described 2013 as the ‘critical’ year in Iran’s nuclear program, which has been seen as a reference to the possible use of military force,” notes the Journal. “The U.S. is also facing the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, with Washington and Pyongyang engaged in heightened military threats. The North conducted its third nuclear weapons test in February. International negotiations aimed at containing Iran’s nuclear program resume Friday in Kazakhstan and involve the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. It will likely be the last round of diplomacy with Tehran until after the June elections, U.S. officials believe. Seeking to ward off international pressure, Iranian nuclear officials have kept the country’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 20% purity below 250 kilograms (550 pounds). Iran would need such an amount—if processed further into weapons-grade fuel—to produce one atomic bomb, experts believe. It is also the amount Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations in September that the world should prevent Iran from amassing, through a military strike if necessary.”
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