IRAN INVITES FRANCE TO INVEST IN FUTURE NUCLEAR INSTALLATIONS

Rohani and ChiracPARIS 13 Jan. (IPS) One of Iran’s post powerful politicians, Hojjahirtoleslam Hasan Rohani met French President Jacques Chirac Wednesday as in Tehran, the unprecedented crisis between Iranian powerless reformists with the ruling conservatives over the rejection of tens of leading reformist candidates entered its fourth strait day.

While in Tehran last week at the very start of the crisis, Mr. Xavier Solana, the EU’s High Representative for Security and Foreign Affairs said he did not know how to explain to the Europeans that popular and active MM’s could be barred from running in elections?

Mr. Rohani briefed his French counterparts on the issue at talks at the Elysee Palace and the Quai D’Orsay. He had a speech at the French Senate, the first ever by any Iranian personality, which highlightens the importance Paris gives to this visit. Mr. Rohani maintained that the elections in the Islamic Republic are among the « most free and fair in the world ».

Well-informed sources following the meeting told Iran Press Service that though the French, like other Europeans, have difficulty understanding the reason of the Council of the Guardians to disqualify popular figures and members of the Majles, but this had no effects on the subject of the talks, specially after the influential cleric observed that very likely, both the next parliament and government in Tehran would be controlled by the ruling conservatives who have, in recent weeks, signed signals to Washington for resuming talks on the possibility of normalising relations.

Mr. Rohani, as the Secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security (SCNS) who met in Tehran last October with foreign affairs ministers of France, Germany and Britain, agreed to sign the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty and led, with brio, the stormy talks, two months ago, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The United States, Israel and some European governments accuses the Islamic Republic of using civilian atomic plants for producing nuclear weapons, charges that Tehran rejects vehemently, insisting that it has no such intentions.

According to some Iranian analysts, Mr. Rohani, a cleric who is very close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenehe’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic, would very probably, if not certainly, become Iran’s next Speaker or President, hence the warm-welcome he received by the French authorities, « probably on recommendation from the Germans, the first who discovered and cultivated him a long time ago, giving him almost a red carpet reception every time he came to Germany », according to Mr. Morteza Ra’issi, a veteran Iranian journalist and commentator of Iranian affairs based in Germany, covering for the Persian service of the BBC.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources said Mr. Rohani reminded that he agreed to sign the Protocols, that gives international nuclear inspectors unconditional and unrestricted visit to all Iranian nuclear facilities and sites on conditions that in return, Iran receives advanced nuclear technologies for civilian uses, as stipulated in the NPT.

Mr. Rohani also waved the prospects for France – as well as Germany, Iran’s major trading partner and political supporter – entering again Iran’s lucrative nuclear market worth billions of Euros.

Iran’s present 1000 megawatts atomic powered electrical plant being constructed in the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr with the help of Russia was originally designed and started by the German firm of Siemens before the Islamic revolution of 1979 and was followed by two other, situated in the oil-rich province of Khoozestan, by the French.

As a minority shareholder of the Eurodif, the French atomic firm that produces uranium, Iran expects to get some of the fuel it needs for the future nuclear power plants it intends to build from the company.

Rohani in Paris As Mr. Rohani was talking to the French, in the German Capital of Berlin, a very important agreement aiming starting large-scale technology cooperation between the two sides was signed.

According to the accord that was inked by the Iranian Energy Minister, Mr. Habibollah Bitaraf and Mrs. Edelgard Buhlman, the German Minister for Research and Technology, German firms could invest in Iran up to 660 million Euros, creating water and water cleaning and sewage factories using the most advanced technologies in the fields, covered by the German

“German companies can now form consortium with Iranian counterparts projects worth billions of Euros”, Mrs. Buhlman told reporters, informing that the first agreement of 250 million Euros has been signed, limited to water works in Tehran.

Germany and Iran have carried out water projects studies since 2000 and this new agreement would create much needed jobs for German concerns”, she added.

“The Wednesday’s almost unprecedented agreement would mark the beginning of future close cooperation in advanced technologies not only with Iran, but also aimed at the lucrative Central Asian markets’, Mr. Ra’issi told IPS. ENDS IRAN FRANCE 14104