By Barry Rubin

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran is building new rockets that can carry heavier satellites. Allegedly these are for carrying peaceful satellites into orbit but, of course, they can also carry nuclear devices.

He also voted that Iran will make nuclear fuel. Allegedly these are for the peaceful production of nuclear energy though why Iran, a country whose oil and natural gas reserves are almost beyond any others, needs a more costly and risky source of power is also questionable. Of course, this can and will be use for making nuclear weapons.

European states, with U.S. encouragement, have for years insisted that Iran’s government stop the fuel production. There are stories, still unconfirmed, that the Obama administration is dropping this demand. At any rate, the Iranian regime will do whatever it wants confident in the knowledge that the West won’t press it too hard.

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What is especially interesting here is Ahmadinejad, who will no doubt be reelected in June, speaking about the international atmosphere: “Those who put conditions on us are now accepting the greatness of the Iranian nation….Now they are saying…`Welcome and let us solve the world issues together.’”

In other words, Tehran interprets Western, especially U.S., hints of concessions and eagerness for engagement as a green light to go faster on nuclear weapons and further on aggressiveness.

On a journalistic note, I should add that AFP actually refers to Ahmadinejad as “hardline,” a phrase almost exclusively used by it and other wire services for conservative Israeli leaders.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to