PARIS, 5 Nov. (IPS) The Islamic Republic of Iran and its three major European interlocutors are engaged in "complicated negotiations" over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programs since this morning in Paris and according to one senior Iranian official, "some small progress" has been achieved so far.
“We are seriously debating the latest proposals put forward by the Europeans and our counter-proposal to them”, Mr. Hoseyn Moussavian told the official Iranian news agency IRNA, adding however that Iran’s suspension of uranium enrichment is negotiable only for confidence-building but not for an indefinite period”.
"Islamic Republic rejects any suspension which obliges the country to terminate its peaceful nuclear programme", Mr. Moussavian, the head of Supreme National Security Council’s Foreign Policy Committee told IRNA on Thursday, adding that the so-called “Big 3”, namely Britain, France and Germany expressed their readiness to recognize Iran’s right to accessing nuclear technology".
Islamic Republic rejects any suspension which obliges the country
to terminate its peaceful nuclear programme.
“The new round of nuclear talks with EU3 will be very complicated, but I’m rather optimistic that the talks would yield a solution”, he said without going into details.
"Europeans offered a new proposal last week and we have prepared our own proposal”, Mr. Moussavian said, stressing that till September 2003, the main issue was the previous nuclear activities of Iran, accused of covert operations and going beyond peaceful nuclear operation. Bu now, as we have accomplished full fuel-cycle, something which is our legitimate right with NPT protocol, something that should not be ignored in the negotiation the question is over the future of our nuclear programs”, he explained.
Asked on the effect of US election on Iran, Moussavian said that total US strategy will not change by presidential election. "Iran-US ties have been faced with basic problems with either democrats or republicans", he said.
Iranian delegation arrived in Paris on Thursday to begin third round of talks with European envoys at French Foreign Ministry, a follow up of two earlier rounds of talks in Vienna that yield now substantial results.
The Europeans offered to supply Iran with fuel for power plants, but, Iran does not consider import of fuel economical when it has established fuel-cycle system under the IAEA safeguards
As Mr. Moussavian was talking to reporters in Paris, In Tehran, Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i repeated with force that the country was not seeking nuclear weapons.
As we have often said, and even announced our jurisdiction decree on the issue, we are not after manufacturing, stock piling, or taking practical advantage of any type of nuclear weapons.
"As we have often said, and even announced our jurisdiction decree on the issue, we are not after manufacturing, stock piling, or taking practical advantage of any type of nuclear weapons, strongly believing that a solid and strong nation and government relying on such a huge pious youth power is basically needless of nuclear weapons".
Addressing worshippers on the occasion of the “martyrdom” of Imam Ali, the Shi’ies first imam, Mr. Khameneh’i said the main reason behind US “irrational hue and cry over Iran’s nuclear projects is Iran’s advancement despite all sanctions, plots, and enmities”.
He also criticised the European trio that had proposed a package containing “carrot and stick” and following the US-led campaign against Iran’s “peaceful nuclear project”.
In an open criticism of the West’s double standard, Mr. Khamenehe’i said the “global arrogance” (the Western nations) are ready to give certain technological concessions to nations under their own hegemony, on condition that they would not break the ties of dependence, but when the Iranian nation and government stress the need to preserve their national independence they raise hell".
Nevertheless, he admitted that Iran has become a nuclear power, observing that young Iranian scientists success in making nuclear fuel production quite indigenous in Iran had made Iran one of the 10 world countries that has access to that highly important technology, “hence the outrage of the Americans and other enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran to conceal those achievements by accusing Iran of trying to produce nuclear bombs".
A few hours before European Union and Iranian diplomats begin a new round of talks in Paris on Iran’s nuclear program; the 25-member European bloc renewed its offer of carrots to the Islamic Republic.
"We expect the reply from the Iranian government on Friday. Their reaction to the proposals that were put forward on behalf of the EU by the Trio, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Bot told a press conference in Brussels late Thursday night.
Earlier EU foreign ministers had discussed relations with Iran over dinner, said Bot whose country holds the current EU Presidency. “The EU proposals contains a package, "We would like to call that carrots in our jargon... The most important carrot is resumption of trade and cooperation agreement talks, but in general terms improvement of relations between EU and Iran and the continued dialogue and there are other enticements, carrots” Bot said, adding that the 25 member European Union expects Iran to comply "with a full and sustained suspension of all enrichment and processing activities".
"So we eagerly await their reaction on Friday because we want the dialogue to be successfully pursued. That is important because it does not concern solely the area of uranium enrichment but we also talk with the Iranians on issues like fighting terrorism, peace and human rights and it would only be possible to address those issues if we have an open and constructive dialogue in place”, he said.
According to the Minister, the “stick” attached with the package of carrots is in case the Iranian authorities show they are not prepared to rally to these suggestions following the report from the IAEA which we have to wait for because we expect that this may well indicate that they are not sticking by earlier promises and that the enrichment activities go somewhat further than energy purposes, from that may flow a decision to go the UN Security Council".
As the EU leaders warned the just newly re-elected President George W. Bush against any possible attack on Iran even if Tehran do not satisfy demands from the IAEA, the Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Li Zhaoxing spoke with his American counterpart Colin Powell by telephone ahead of his visit to Iran.
Li is visiting Iran days after the two nations signed a “historic” 100 billions US Dollars agreement ten days ago for massive import of natural liquefied gas from Iran over a period of 25 years.
Sources said the accord is so far the most important ever signed in this field, as China has become world’s second major energy importer after the United States and Iran has the world largest natural gas reserves after Russia.
Diplomatic sources said besides finalising the accord that was reached in Peking, the Chinese Minister would also discuss the issue of Iran's nuclear program within the framework of the International Atomic Agency.
“The U.S. Secretary of State and Chinese Foreign Minister also exchanged views on ways to properly resolve the nuclear issue with Iran during their telephone conversation”, the Chinese official news agency reported.
According to some sources, Iran made the gesture, economically very favourable to China, in the hope to secure Peking’s veto at the Security Council in case that under pressures from Washington, Iran’s case at the IAEA is transferred to New York, as the Agency’s Board of Directors has warned in is latest resolution of 18 September 2004.
But may be the most interesting event is the visit of the librarian of Congress, James Billington to Tehran.
Billington described his six-day tour of Tehran, the capital, and Isfahan, the second-largest city, as one of the most rewarding of his 17 years at the Library of Congress.
"I've been treated extremely well", he said, adding that he expected the chief of the Iranian National Library, Mohammed Bojnourdi, to visit Washington. No date was set.
Billington is the highest-level U.S. official to visit Iran and openly meet with Iranian officials since relations between the two countries soured with the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, resulting in the cutting of relations between the former allies and imposition of economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic by Washington
The only higher-level visit took place secretly during the Reagan administration, when National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane and Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North conducted arms-for-hostages diplomacy. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 51104