VIENNA, 22 Nov. (IPS) Iran is expected to score a half diplomatic success when the Board of Directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets on Thursday 25 November in Vienna to review controversial nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic.
“The meeting is very important for the Iranians. If their case is closed at the IAEA, something that Iran expects; it would be a great victory for them. But even if the Agency’s Board keeps the case for further review, not yielding to American pressures, it would be a half success”, a political analyst close to the problem told Iran Press Service.
"... it is going to be business as usual: no sanction and not closing the case", predicted one Iranian observer about next IAEA meeting
Diplomats also said that sanctions remain unlikely as China and Russia, two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, have said they support Iran's stance, ruling out at the same time using their veto power in case Washington can fulfill its aim.
“Very likely, it is going to be business as usual: no sanction and not closing the case”, predicted one Iranian observer.
According to a draft resolution prepared by Britain, France and Germany, the three most powerful members of the European Union that are actively working with Tehran to solve the case since a year ago, the so-called “Big 3” would ask Iran to continue suspending uranium enriching activities and approve the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The draft, obtained by the Iran press and to be presented to the Board, welcomes Iran’s suspending enriching activities but urges the IAEA’s Boss Dr. Mohammad Ebrade’i to continue monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities to make sure that the atomic technology is not diverted to military purposes, as Washington and Tel Aviv suspects.
In an agreement reached on 15 November 2004 in Paris with the European Troika, Iran accepted “voluntarily” to suspend enriching uranium as from 22 November “for the duration of talks”, but ruled out definitive stopping of the activities, as demanded by Berlin, London and Paris and pressed hard by Washington.
For their part, the Troika promised Tehran access to nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes and signing a Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union.
Speaking in Moscow with reporters, Mr. Hoseyn Moussavian, one of Iran's senior negotiators with the IAEA and the Troika repeated that contined suspension of enriching uranium would depend on the outcomes of the 25 November meeting.
"If the Europeans respect their part of the (Paris) Accords, we would stay by our engagements, otherwise, we have no other obligations", he said.
In a statement in Santiago de Chile, President George W. Bush welcomed cautiously the Paris Accord, but added that what “all of us we want is to see Iran stopping all its nuclear activities at once and definitively”.
The Trio’s draft faults the Islamic Republic for the past activities it had not reported to the IAEA and calls on Tehran to continue cooperating actively with the Agency to “consolidate confidence building” by making sure that nuclear inspectors could visit any site they wishes to inspect “any time with no restrictions”.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters in Brussels on Monday that Iran's move was a positive one but warned that it was not the end of the matter.
"If there is a failure by Iran to meet its obligations then Britain and also Germany and France reserve our collective right to refer the matter to the Security Council", Mr. Straw warned on the sideline of the EU foreign affairs ministers meeting, quoted by the BBC.
In an interview with the BBC radio on Sunday, Mr. ElBarade’i said cautiously though that “so far”, international nuclear inspectors have not found evidence proving that Iran is diverting nuclear technology to military uses.
"If there is a failure by Iran to meet its obligations then Britain, Germany and France reserve collective right to refer the matter to the Security Council", Mr. Straw warned
"We believe that all the declared nuclear material in Iran is in our custody right now and has not been diverted to nuclear weapons", he said, observing however that “there is still a lot of work to do to make sure there are not undeclared activities in the country".
He also welcomed news of Iran's suspension as "a good step in the right direction" that could "build confidence" in the Iranian government's intentions.
He also said that Iran had made the uranium gas used in enrichment but that the quantities involved were not enough to produce a nuclear weapon.
Iran reacted angrily to recent reports that it was speeding up uranium enrichment during the week-long gap between the deal being struck and the deadline for its introduction.
"So far, we have been able (...) to visit all the facilities we want to visit... including military sites. I hope that will continue", ElBarade’i said, adding that IAEA inspectors "have pretty extensive rights of verification".
"I would like Iran to continue to demonstrate maximum transparency," he said. "The more transparency they show, the more confidence we can build and the more assurances we can provide the international community".
The declaration by the international nuclear watchdog’s boss contradicted earlier statement by both American officials like the outgoing State Secretary Collin Powell and un-identified diplomats in Vienna accusing the Iran to develop new hardware capable of transporting nuclear charges and transforming quantities of yellow cake, or raw uranium into hexafluoride gas needed for enriching uranium.
But while the so-called diplomats – the same ones that always turn out right before the start of each meeting of the IAEA directors when Iran’s nuclear case is on debate, giving Western correspondents new information on Iran’s breaches of the Agency’s earlier resolutions – were vague on the quantities of yellow cake and the dates it had been enriched, Mr. Powell also was challenged by the press on the accuracy of his “exclusive information” on new Iranian weapons.
As expected, Tehran hit back at Powell's charges, saying not only the information were “totally baseless”, but also ruled out as “useless” the possibility of him meeting Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi on the sidelines of the Sharm alSheykh international conference on Iraq.
“Despite some unreasonable demands, the proposed draft has a lukewarm language”, the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted “analysts” as having commented on the Big 3’s proposal, adding however that it is unlikely to satisfy the United States.
“Presenting many contradictions with the views of the Americans, the draft, even if approved, would remain at the IAEA but would not go to the United Nations Security Council for sanctions against the Islamic Republic”, IRNA added. ENDS IRAN BIG 3 NUCLEAR 221104