VIENNA, 21 Oct. (IPS) Iran’s crucial talk with the European Union’s so-called Big 3, namely Britain, France and Germany on the Trio’s latest “package” to Tehran ended Thursday with both sides agreeing to continue the dialogue on Iranian controversial nuclear programs.
"Both sides agreed to pursue the talks and hold meetings before
25 November", the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Mr. Sirous Naseri, a member of the Iranian delegation at the talks as having said, referring to the next meeting of the Board of Directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Led by Mr. Amir Hoseyn Zamani-Nia, the General Director for International Affairs at Iran’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, diplomats from Iran met on Thursday counterparts from the “Big 3” in Vienna to review European Union’s latest offer to Tehran aimed at diffusing the Iranian nuclear deadlock.
The talks were “positive and constructive”
Describing the talks, held at the French mission in Vienna behind
closed doors as “positive and constructive”, Mr. Naseri stressed that the meeting was conducted in a “friendly atmosphere, with no threats or intimidations from any side”.
“In the meeting that lasted for three hours, Iran presented its offer and also received the offer jointly suggested by the three European states”, he added, without disclosing any detail on the substance of the talks.
“The atmosphere of the dialogue was positive. We got the impression that the European side wanted to reach a mutual understanding with Iran and a peaceful solution to the misunderstandings”, Mr. Naseri said, adding, “we try to act in a way satisfactory to the two sides”.
As Mr. Zamani-Nia was receiving the Trio’s proposals, in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the influential Chairman of the powerful Expediency Council said the problem "must be solved with dialogue and diplomatic channels".
Speaking to reporters, the former president said Iran’s position concerning its controversial nuclear activities is “known and unchangeable”, but added that one has to try to address the problem by diplomatic means.
“We shall not welcome challenge, but at the same time we shall not sacrifice the right of the nation, the people and the revolution”, he said, adding that “the difficulties could be solved if we carry out our diplomatic efforts in a more serious and deeper way”, a veiled criticism of Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, Iran’s senior negotiator on the nuclear question.
Asked about the possible outcome from the Thursday meeting, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani said final decisions would not be taken in Vienna, where IAEA is based.
“Our envoys would study the proposals and then they would come back to Tehran to report to the authorities for decision. The other side would do the same”, he pointed out.
[According to an IRNA dispatch, Mr. Rohani, who is also the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council for National Security cancelled sine die a scheduled visit to Rome, where he was expected to meet with the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his Foreign Affairs Minister Franco Fratini.
Though there was no explanation for the cancellation, but some sources speculated that it might have been the result of criticism made earlier on the day by Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani on Iran’s conduct of the nuclear talks].
According to a document obtained by the French news agency AFP, the European Trio is ready to promise Iran nuclear technology, including supplying a light-water nuclear reactor, if Tehran takes steps to show it is not secretly trying to make atomic weapons.
"We would support the acquisition by Iran of a light water research reactor", said the seven-page document presented by Britain, France and Germany to the G8 group of industrialized nations last week in Washington ahead of to day's meeting of the so-called Euro-3 with Iran.
The goal of the meeting was to give Iran a last-chance to come clean and to agree to suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment before IAEA decides on November 25 in Vienna whether Iran is cooperating or not with the Agency, diplomats said.
Washington, which accuses the Islamic Republic of ambitions to build a nuclear arsenal by diverting the atomic technology for civilian use has not endorsed nor rejected the latest proposals that warns there was only "a short period of time left to secure a comprehensive and acceptable understanding from Iran".
President Mohammad Khatami repeated that Iran was "ready to assure the world that we are not pursuing nuclear weapons and I believe the only way is through talks and reaching an understanding".
He expressed surprise that Iran that has not yet mastered the nuclear technology is awakening concerns but not countries that have already the atomic bomb and nuclear arsenal?, a reference to Israel or Pakistan, two countries that have atomic bombs.
But Western diplomats and experts say the difference is that the structure of the Iranian theocratic system is such that contrary to all other nuclear powers, there is no a central command and if the regime is in possession of an atomic bomb, several centre of powers can reach the nuclear button.
Another big concern is that not only Iranian ruling ayatollahs have repeated that they want to annihilate Israel, but also nuclearisation of Iran would certainly trigger an atomic race in the volatile Middle East region, the add.
Iran has adopted an ambiguous attitude towards the suggestions, saying it can not depend on other nations for the fuel needed for its nuclear reactors.
"No country with a large-scale nuclear program can allow itself to depend on foreign suppliers of nuclear fuel”, Mr. Mohammad Hoseyn Moussavian, Iran’s second in command on nuclear issue told The Asia Times Online at the sideline of the last meeting of IAEA’s Board of Director last September.
In the interview, Mr. Moussavian, who is also the Secretary of the SCNS’s Foreign Policy Department had proposed that France and Germany, “and why not the United States” invest in Iran’s future nuclear powered electricity projects.
Iran says to satisfy its needs of electricity in the future estimated at 7.000 megawatts, it plans to build another six reactors en plus the one it has already under construction in the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr with the help of Russia.
“We must be able to produce some of our fuel in Iran itself but that does not mean we are turning down fuel offered by the European countries or even the United States", he said on Wednesday, adding that Iran will be obliged to buy some of its fuel from abroad “but the production in Iran of fuel is much more economical".
"We are insisting on our legitimate right to enrich uranium while the Europeans are saying they will provide us both with the fuel and the nuclear plants because, they say, we would be able to enrich uranium to build a bomb. This is totally unacceptable", Moussavian stated.
We shall not welcome challenge, but at the same time we shall not sacrifice the right of the nation, the people and the revolution.
“Iran has yet to give us the confidence we need about its intentions," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters in London with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. "We cannot go on indefinitely, but Iran could still give us that confidence by introducing an indefinite suspension of its enrichment and processing activities".
Fischer for his part urged Iran to continue working with France, Britain and Germany to resolve the issue. "We are very concerned about the developments and I think it is very important that there is not a miscalculation in Tehran", he said, urging Tehran to "stick to the agreement" they made.
But Mr. Qolamali Haddad Adel, the Speaker of the conservatives-controlled Majles reiterated on Wednesday 20 October 2004 that “if the European trio’s proposals falls short of what he also described as “Iran’s legitimate rights”, the parliament might not ratify the Tehran Agreements, including the Additional Protocol that allows international nuclear experts and inspectors full and unrestricted access to all Iranian nuclear sites and projects, except some military installations.
However, the Big 3 that signed an agreement in Tehran on October last year in which Iran pledged to suspend enriching uranium and signing the Additional protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty have so far opposed American’s efforts to take Iran’s nuclear case from IAEA to the United Nations Security Council hoping for economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
"We intend to put to the Iranians an approach containing the immediate decisions we require from them on suspension and draft elements for a long-term agreement which we could start to negotiate as soon as the IAEA verifies that the suspension is in place", the EU3 paper said.
"The suspension will be indefinite, until we reach an acceptable long-term agreement," the three European nations said.
They said that if Iran failed to suspend all uranium enrichment activities, the Euro 3 would join the United States in calling for the Islamic Republic to be taken to the Security Council.
In its last resolution, the 35-members IAEA Board of Directors called on Iran to stop all enriching activities and suspend work on a heavy water reactor.
Iran’s Permanent Representative to the UN Mohammad-Javad Zarif and Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Pirouz Hoseyni were among the members of the Iranian delegation.
Meanwhile, Iran conducted a new test of its Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which it says has a range of 2,000 kilometres, adding to concerns over Iran’s nuclear projects, as the improved missile can take a one tonne charge to places as far as Israel and southern Europe. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 211004