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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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Iranian Mysteries

On the eve of the Iranian election the BBC reports,

United Nations nuclear monitors say Iran has admitted to misleading them over its experiments with plutonium.

The UN's nuclear watchdog is expected to confirm later that Iran continued experimenting with plutonium - a key component of atomic bombs - until 1998.

Iran had previously told the body it had ended its experiments in 1993.

Correspondents say these latest inconsistencies in Iran's account will fuel suspicions about the real aims of its nuclear programme.

Iranian presidential favourite Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has told the BBC that Iran did not report all nuclear work.

"It's possible that at times, Iran has not reported its activities," Mr Rafsanjani told the BBC's Newsnight television programme.
This is worrying simply because the EU has been proceeding as if Iran is prepared to keep the promises it makes. Now it turns out that, rather as the Americans and Israelis have suspected, Iran has been "fibbing".

The election in Iran, while largely stage managed by the mullahs may be important purely at a symbolic level. A close race will suggest a growing dienchantment with the Islamic state. The problem is that, after twenty five years in power, the mullahs are not about to give up the perks of office without a protracted fight. There are already reports of the fundamentalists beating reformists.

However, Rafsanjani, who is billed as a pragmatist but whose support from the mullahs is significant, faces the prospects of failing to gain the 50% of the votes requred to elect. The somewhat liberal Dr. Moin from the left and former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf from the right are poised to deny Rafsanjani an outright win.

Which makes it even more interesting that Rafsanjani is admitting that Iran might not have been entirely forthright about its nuclear program. Why admit this? And why admit it now?