"...the European states have put forward illegitimate demands of halting uranium enrichment"
"All activities of Iran concerning its nuclear projects have been transparent and legal, therefore, taking our case to the UN Security Council would be useless for those who are after it"
PARIS, 26 Oct. (IPS) Sharply divided, the ruling Iranian hard liners are blowing cold and hot on the country's position concerning the controversial nuclear programs, the debate centering on whether to continue cooperation with International community or ending it.
As the ultras are pushing hard, through the press and particularly the Majles, or parliament, for Iran to get out of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) an put an end to dialogue with the European so-called "Big 3", the moderates are suggesting a softer attitude, including talks with Britain, France and Germany.
"In order to prove the world that the Americans are lying in their allegations that Iran has secret plans to develop atomic weapons, we are voluntarily cooperating with IAEA", Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, Tehran's top negotiator on nuclear issues with both the Vienna-based international nuclear watchdog and the European Trio said on Monday.
Talking to reporters after a Majles session Monday, Mr. Rohani said that Iran's cooperation with IAEA was not because of Europe but is aimed at proving that all US accusations against the Islamic Republic were "baseless and unfounded".
"The problem is that the US and some of its supporters are against Iran and the country should move its case ahead despite all obstacles being created by them", Mr. Rohani said, adding however that Iran has succeeded in making many progress regarding its nuclear case despite the fact that Washington has been demanding in all meetings that Iran's case should be referred to the United Nations Security Council for economic sanctions.
Asked what Iran would do in the event its nuclear case is sent to the Security Council, Mr. Rohani, who is also the Secretary of Iran's Supreme Council on National Security said emphatically that such a move, if taken, would be considered a "politically-motivated one", according to the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
"All activities of Iran concerning its nuclear projects have been transparent and legal, therefore, taking our case to the UN Security Council would be useless for those who are after it", he explained asking: "What the council is going to do now that Iran is to continue its cooperation within the framework of the international regulations?"
Observers and analysts told Iran Press service that Tehran is confident that if the issue is referred to the Security Council, Russia or China would veto any resolution that come hard on Iran, as Moscow is building Iran's first 1.000 megawats nuclear electricity plant and Peking has helpd the country's missile projects.
According to official plans, Iran needs to construct at least six more nuclear-powered electricity stations to satisfy its needs of electricity in the future.
However, the policy adopted by the Iranian negotiating team is bitterly criticized by the hard line wing of the ruling conservatives. Mrs. Raf'at Bayat, a lawmaker for the north-eastern province of Zanjan last week sharply attacked Mr. Rohani, pointing out that while the European Trio is all the time increasing its pressures on Iran, Mr. Rohani and his collaborators retreats in defeat, insisting on the continuation of dialogue.
She was referring to both the latest resolution of the IAEA's Board of Directors that called on the Islamic Republic to stop all its uranium enriching activities and a "package" presented latter offering Tehran fuel for its nuclear-powered electricity plants and possible investment by western major nuclear reactors manufacturers in future Iranian atomic projects for civilian use.
This last proposal, sponsored by the Big 3, received the lukewarm backing of the G 7, or the group of seven major industrial powers, namely Japan, Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy plus Russia.
The Majles, now the flag bearer of the opponents of nuclear cooperation, has menaced with the prospect of not ratifying the Additional Protocol to the NPT if the IAEA and Europe does not recognise the right of Iran to enriching uranium, a step that it is not forbidden under the NPT regulations.
Members of Majles signed a petition on Tuesday condemning the European proposal to suspending uranium enrichment and calling on the government not to heed such "an illegitimate demand".
Some 93 MMs said in their petition that the Europeans have ignored all the steps Iran has taken to build confidence over its nuclear program and attempted to strip Iran of the rights stipulated in the NPT.
"Ignoring all the measures Iran has taken to allay the concerns about national nuclear program, the European states have put forward illegitimate demands of halting uranium enrichment", lawmakers said in their petition, calling on the government not to accept the European proposal adding that since the Europeans did not appreciate the steps Iran took as confidence-building measures, the additional protocol should no longer take effect.
Hard line newspapers controlled by the conservatives have joined the chorus, urging the government of the embattled President Mohammad Khatami to take the country out of the NPT, as did Communist North Korea before.
On Sunday, the Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry that has also its hands in the nuclear negotiations rejected the latest "package" saying it was not "balanced" and did not answer Iranian demands.
According to Mr. Rohani, what Tehran wanted from both IAEA and the Europeans is to close Iran's nuclear case on the basis of legal documents in order to prove to the world that its nuclear programs are only for peaceful purposes.
"Our red line is that we can not accept double standards. We are a signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty and we want our rights of access to advanced nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes to be officially and publicly accepted by the IAEA. We want the European three major powers to announce it openly", he stressed.
As for the latest report of the IAEA inspectors on Iran's nuclear case, IRNA quoted trhe cleric as having said that based on what has been announced by the UN nuclear watchdog, only two more issues have been left to be explained which were related to the P2s and contamination of Iran's nuclear equipment.
According to Mr. Rohani, the two issues are related to "third countries", which although he did not name, but was clear that it was Pakistan.
"It is possible that part of Iran's nuclear case has not been completed yet because a third state has not extended proper cooperation with the IAEA", Rohani said, adding, "that is the problem of the IAEA and the third country and it has nothing to do with the Islamic Republic".
As further talks between Iran and the EU 3 are expected to be held in Vienna on Wednesday 28 October, ahead of the next meeting of the IAEA'a directors scheduled for 25 November 2004, a meeting that the Americans wants it to be a final call for Iran to stop all its uranium enriching activities before sending the whole issue to the United Nations, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Monday that that there was still scope for negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
"We do need the Iranians to understand the international community does not find it acceptable that they develop nuclear weapons", Mr. Blair said in response to questions by journalists about the amount of pressures the world could put on Iran, one of the world's largest exporter of crude oil.
Asked whether Britain would join the US in launching military action against Iran over the disputes on its nuclear program, the Prime Minister said, "I don't know anyone who is talking about military action in Iran".
On Sunday, the UN's former chief arms inspector Hans Blix criticized the demands being put on Iran to permanently suspend the enrichment of uranium, even though it was entitled to do so under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In an interview with German broadcaster ARD, he urged Western nations to offer Iran concessions, He also warned against air strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, saying that no nuclear weapons were being developed at such sites. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 261004