It is sad to see otherwise knowledgable individual engage in blatant lying when it comes to Iran and Iran's nuclear program. Case in point: Robin Wright's recent interview with Tehran Bureau (which is a discredited source itself anyway)
Question: The United States and the other powers agree Iran has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Iran purportedly wants to have electrical grids powered by nuclear energy, yet we're insisting that Iran stop its enrichment program. Are the two inconsistent?
Wright: Not really. Remember, the Russians are providing the fuel rods for Bushehr, which is their first nuclear reactor, which should be up and running in the near future. And the United States doesn't have any objections -- and has been stating that since the Ford administration -- to an Iranian peaceful nuclear energy program. The question is: If Russia and others provide the fuel, why does Iran need its own enrichment program? Unless it also has other intentions.
First, notice how Tehran Bureau throws a puffball and a loaded question: "The US agrees that Iran has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy". Does it? Really? What does "peaceful" mean in this context? Because even now, the US has specifically stated that Iran supposedly does not have the right to enrich uranium, and since enriching uranium is very much a part of a peaceful nuclear program (in Japan, the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, etc.) then the question is itself misleading and contra-factual. Note that Iran's enrichment program is under complete IAEA safeguards.
Now lets take a look at Wright's answer: First of all, she mentions that Iran's nuclear program was not objected to by "since the Ford administration" but then questions the need for enrichment. Apparently Robin Wright doesn't realize that Iran's nuclear program included plans for enrichment back then too -- indeed, Iran's enrichment program was first set up under the Shah's regime, with the assistance of France. Secondly, while it is certainly true that Russia has agreed to provide the fuel for the Bushehr reactor (for a period of 10 years only) apparently Robin Wright doesn't realize that Iran has had plans to build up to 22 nuclear reactors since the days of the Shah, and can hardly afford to allow itself to be totally reliant on Russia to fuel them (would the US agree to be totally reliant on Iran for oil? Then why should Iran be totally reliant on Russia for nuclear fuel?) In fact, considering that even Dick Cheney accused the Russians of practicing "energy blackmail" then it would be stupid of the Iranians to exclusively rely on Russia. These facts are not secret -- Robin Wright does or should know them well, which means that when she implies that Iran has "other intentions" for enrichment, then she's either woefully incomptent and misinformed, or plain lying.
Then we get this gem from Robin Wright:
Any halt to enrichment would be followed by the agreed-upon set of new inspection rules for the International Atomic Energy Agency, I suppose?
The West is looking for answers to questions that Iran has never answered about that eighteen-year period prior to 2003 where it had a secret program. They haven't fully answered those questions, and they have not allowed access, for example, to the scientist believed to be in charge of their nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. In other words, the inspectors have not had the kind of full access they want.
Apparently Robin Wright is not away that in Aug 2007, Iran and the IAEA made a list of outstanding issues regarding Iran's past nuclear conduct that had to be addressed, and that the Feb 2008 IAEA report specifically stated that all of the outstanding issues had been resolved. As I mentioned before, regarding the Feb 2008 report, IAEA director ElBaradei said:
[W]e have made quite good progress in clarifying the outstanding issues that had to do with Iran´s past nuclear activities, with the exception of one issue, and that is the alleged weaponization studies that supposedly Iran has conducted in the past. We have managed to clarify all the remaining outstanding issues, including the most important issue, which is the scope and nature of Iran´s enrichment programme.
As for the statement that "inspectors have not had the kind of full access they want" note that she doesn't mention that the access they want is not necessarily the access that Iran is legally obligated to allow though Iran has already on several occasions allowed far greater access to inspectors than what it was legally obliged to allow, and has offered to allow greater even access once its nuclear rights are recognized. This nuance goes unmentioned. As for the assertion about a "secret" program, just how much of "secret" is a nuclear program that is repeatedly mentioned in national radio broadcasts etc?