Iran is sending out mixed messages over its nuclear ambitions. While reportedly pushing ahead with uranium enrichment, it is also saying that talks with Russia on conducting the process there are ongoing. But it is unclear if that is a concession Tehran is willing to make, though it would significantly ease international concerns. Visiting Japan, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, made clear that Iran was not about to give up its nuclear programme:
“We would like to enjoy our rights like Japan to have nuclear technology, of course for peaceful purposes.” Meanwhile, some observers see Japan as walking a diplomatic tightrope. On the one hand it backs the US, its main security ally, but on the other, is keen to pursue ties with Tehran and develop an Iranian oil field seen as vital to its energy needs. For its part, Iran says it does not want to build a nuclear bomb – but given that highly enriched uranium can do just that its pursuit of the process is doing little to allay western fears.