TEHRAN, 12 Oct. (IPS) Russia joined Britain, France and Germany, known as the European Union’s “Big 3” demanding the Islamic Republic to heed the international community for suspending enriching uranium, a vital process in the chain of producing nuclear weapons.
Moscow made the call during the just concluded visit to Tehran by Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov who, according to well-informed diplomatic sources, had “very openly and clearly” warned his Iranian interlocutors of the dangers it would face if it did not stop nuclear activities.
Iran looks upon trust-building measures as positive, but only on the condition that Iran’s legitimate and legal rights are respected.
In private talks with Iranian officials, Lavrov made it clear that if Iran did not satisfy what the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would ask Iran to do at its forthcoming meeting, Iran’s issue would be “most probably” sent to the United Nations Security Council for decision, sources told Iran Press Service in Tehran.
But according to the official news agency IRNA, Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the influential Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council on National Security (SCNS) and senior negotiator with both IAEA and the European Trio told Lavrov that Iran would remain committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its additional protocol “only if Iran’s use of peaceful technology is recognised”.
“Iran looks upon trust-building measures as positive, but only on the condition that Iran’s legitimate and legal rights are respected internationally”, the cleric, tipped as being one of the conservatives candidates as the next Iranian president added.
The Board of Directors of the international nuclear watchdog on 18 September had urged Tehran to abandon enriching uranium or it might face sanctions by the United Nations Security Council, a measure Moscow, like Berlin, London or Paris, is opposed, but might drop its opposition in case the Islamic Republic continue with the enriching process.
But in a total disdain to the Resolution, Mr. Qolamreza Aqazadeh, the Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation revealed on 20 September in Vienna that Tehran had enriched 37 tonnes of yellow cake into hexafluroide gas.
The process continues unabated.
Foreign affairs ministers of Britain, France and Germany who initiated on 20 October last year an agreement with Tehran over suspension of uranium enriching against transfer to nuclear technologies for peaceful means became more and more menacing in recent months against Iran and have gone closer to the harsher line suggested to them by the United States.
Under the agreement signed by Mr. Rohani, who is also Europe’s and IAEA’s senior negotiator on Iranian controversial nuclear issue, Iran also agreed to sign the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty, a clause that allows international nuclear inspectors full and unconditional access to all Iranian nuclear-related sites and projects.
Iran's conservative-dominated Majles, or parliament is menacing of not ratifying the Additional Protocol if the international community goes ahead forcing Iran to stop all enriching activities.
In a statement last week, Mr. Fischer told Iran of “not committing any mistake” thinking Europe and IAEA were not serious in their warnings over Iranian nuclear activities.
But on the surface, Lavrov adopted a more conciliatory attitude towards his hosts, indicating that he also was not in favour of seeing Iran’s case at the IAEA going to New York for consideration, as pushed by Washington, but opposed by the so-called Big 3.
"To start thinking of any scenario which is not constructive to our point of view is premature and could be counter-productive", Lavrov said at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi in Tehran on Sunday 10 October, referring to the possibility of Iran’s case with the IAEA being transferred to the UN’s Security Council.
"We will be expecting the cooperation between Iran and the IAEA to continue", Lavrov said, adding that enjoying the benefits from nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes was Iran’s full right.
But a defiant Kharrazi corrected him, pointing out that, "It is Iran's legitimate right to master nuclear technology including uranium enrichment".
If Iran continue rejecting IAEA’s demands, then it would be difficult for Moscow to support Tehran at the UN.
At this point, Lavrov urged him to reconsider, saying "As (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has suggested before, it is better if Iran listens to the agency's call. This is better for everyone".
"There is no talk of stopping it. It's not something Iran can accept", Mr. Kharrazi replied, stressing however that Iran was ready to give whatever assurances were required to show that it will not use nuclear technology to make atomic weapons.
While Iran insists that its ongoing nuclear projects are for generating electricity, the United States and Israel accuses it of wanting the technology for military aims.
According to press reports from Tel Aviv, the Jewish State, -- which the ruling Iranian ayatollahs do not recognise the existence to the point that never mention it by its name of Israel, using “the Zionist Entity” instead in their official language – is seriously considering the option of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities in a repeat of what it did with Iraq in 1981, profiting from the war the now imprisoned Iraqi dictator Saddam Hoseyn had started with its neighbour, then in full revolutionary turmoil due to the unexpected quick victory of Islamic Revolution of 1979 led by the late Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini against the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Western diplomatic sources say if the Security Council decides of harsh measures against the Islamic Republic, it would face a Russia veto, adding however that in case Tehran continue pushing with its enriching uranium activities, Moscow would have no other choice but abstaining, an attitude China, another nation suspected of nuclear cooperation with Iran, might also take.
“If Iran continue rejecting IAEA’s demands, then it would be difficult for Moscow to support Tehran at the UN”, one Iranian analyst told Iran Press Service, adding that a Security Council sanction would “very seriously” harm Russia’s financial interest in Iran, where it is building the country’s first nuclear reactor in the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr at a cost of some 800 million US Dollars.
The light-water 1,000-megawatt project was originally due to come on stream in 1998, but now experts say it would not be finished before late 2006.
Foreign affairs ministers of the 25-members European Union during their last meeting held on Monday in Luxembourg, offered the Islamic Republic “carrots and sticks”, stating that while they would not accept the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, which could destabilise the Middle East, but at the same time are ready for joint diplomatic efforts with Russia and the United States to avert that risk.
“We want to continue the process as the EU and to formulate a package. We rejected the option of Iran becoming a nuclear power as dangerous,” German Foreign Affairs Minister Joschka Fischer said as the ministers instructed EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to prepare the package to encourage Tehran to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog.
And to thwart the bloc’s other nations that accuse the “Big 3” of monopolising the talks with Iran, the ministers agreed that Solana would join the Britain, France and Germany in diplomacy towards Iran to ensure that the whole bloc was better associated with the negotiations.
The incentives could include assistance with Iran’s peaceful energy programme, sources said.
In an interview with the Hong Kong and Bangkok-based “The Asia Times Online”, Mr. Hoseyn Moussavian, Head of the SCNS’s Foreign Policy Department considered as Mr. Rohani’s “mouth piece” had called on France and Germany, but also Britain and “why not” the United States to invest in the multi-billions project.
According to some Iranian analysts, the “package” might as well hint to the West’s readiness to participate in Iran’s plans for building six other nuclear-powered electricity plants.
Citing unnamed U.S. and European diplomats, “The New York Times” reported on Tuesday that the Bush Administration is holding talks with European allies on a possible package of economic incentives for Iran as part of efforts to persuade Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment, offers that could include access to imported nuclear fuel.
Diplomats told the Times that while the Bush Administration had not endorsed any incentives for Iran, it was not discouraging the EU from assembling a package that the administration would consider after the U.S. presidential election on 2 November for likely presentation to Tehran later in the month.
According to the newspaper, the incentives under discussion would allow Iran to import fuel for the civilian reactor it is building at the Persian Gulf port of Bushehr with assistance from Russia and may lift curbs that are blocking Iran from importing spare parts for its ailing civilian airline, consisting partly by ageing American-made Boeings.
“Iran will only remain committed to international nuclear safeguards if it is allowed to master the entire nuclear fuel cycle and enrich uranium” Mr. Rohani was quoted as saying on Monday, rejecting rejected demands to stop all other activities related to uranium enrichment, like building centrifuges and converting raw uranium.
In an interview with the British news agency “Reuters” on Saturday 9 October 2004, Mr. Moussavian, who also is the spokesman of Iran’s delegation at IAEA talks said Tehran was even willing to listen to ideas from the United States, such as one put forward by Senator John Kerry to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"Iran welcomes any constructive proposal from any American candidate", Mr. Moussavian said, asked about suggestions that a Kerry government would be willing to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for power generation if Tehran abandons its own fuel-making capability.
In their last debate, both Mr. Kerry and President George W. Bush described as “very dangerous” Iran’s efforts to become a nuclear power and wowed to use “every ways and means” to prevent it.
“If it become necessary to address Iran in a very strong way, one can be sure that we (democrats) would go for the harshest of ways”, Sen. Kerry assured, accusing Mr. Bush of having indirectly allowed Iran to continue its nuclear projects while the (Bush) Administration was busy with Iraq.
Earlier, the Democrat’s nominee for the top job had said that in case Iran abandons its plans for nuclearisation, he could consider offering the country atomic technologies for civilian uses, including producing much needed electricity.
However, Mr. Moussavian latter denied the declaration attributed to him by Reuters, saying Iran had no negotiations with the United States.
On the controversial issue of nuclear fuel for Bushehr station, held up for several months amid a dispute over pricing and the return of spent material, Lavrov hinted that Moscow and Tehran were in the final stages of reaching an agreement on the supply and return of nuclear fuel for Iran's first nuclear reactor "in the near future".
Iran says it doesn't have facilities to store the spent fuel. Moscow wants to pay in order to take back the fuel to Russia.
As Lavrov was leaving Iran, a high-ranking delegation from the IAEA arrived in Tehran for fresh talks aimed at resolving the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities; Iran’s state television reported Tuesday.
The six-member delegation, headed by the Agency’s deputy director general Pierre Goldschmidt, is expected to stay in Iran for the whole week and would again be raising the issues of traces of highly enriched uranium found here as well as Iran's work on advanced P2 centrifuges, the hard liner’s controlled television added, quoting Goldschmidt as saying he hoped to carry out site visits, as well as discuss a possible visit to the Parchin military zone near Tehran that has been cited as a possible site of covert nuclear activities. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 121004