Staff editorial: Secrets don’t make friends

Iran has a busy four weeks ahead of it.

A U.N. spokeswoman announced Sunday that the country would answer all remaining questions about its nuclear activities within one month, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has many, many questions, as does the rest of the world.

Anonymous diplomatic sources have even said they are working to address delicate topics such as concerns that past testing was linked to nuclear weapons, CNN reported. We have some big questions of our own.

Why has it taken Iran so long to bring transparency to its nuclear programs? President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has asserted time and time again that the country’s nuclear inquiries are intended for energy purposes only, yet it is difficult to take his words at face value when the program has been so secretive until now. At least for the next four weeks, the country will continue to guard its actions.

The four-week deadline is intended to bring the IAEA’s probe into Iran’s nuclear programs and capabilities to a close, yet the deadline for the investigation is already a month overdue. Sidesteps and delays do little to boost confidence in the Iranian leadership’s intentions and honesty.

What will it take for Iran to cease its uranium enrichment programs? The U.N. Security Council has demanded the country stop enriching uranium, which can be used for either nuclear energy or nuclear weapons, and a spokeswoman for the IAEA chief said he is pushing for the country to do the same as a "confidence-building measure."

In a speech Sunday, President Bush also said the world should not trust Iran and its intentions, accusing them of funding terrorists, defying the United Nations and intimidating its neighbors. Combined with Gen. David Petraeus’ announcement Saturday that the number of Iran-linked bombs in Iraq rose sharply in January, Iran needs a positive public-relations move.

Although Iran’s agreement to unveil some of the secrets surrounding its nuclear program is a step in the right direction, the country will have to do so quickly to build trust with the United Nations and the world.

If Iran keeps its word to be open and honest about its programs, the country’s reputation will improve, giving it a better chance to pursue its stated goals of generating nuclear energy without harassment.

However, missing yet another deadline will give much more validity to Bush’s claims that the country cannot be trusted and deepen fears that the country’s nuclear program isn’t just about energy after all.

Keeping an open mind and thinking the best of people are admirable traits, but there’s only so far one can trust, especially when it comes to nuclear weapons.

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