VIENNA 13 Sept. (IPS) The international nuclear watchdog agency, the European Union's "Big 3" in the one hand and the Islamic Republic of Iran on the other continued their exchange of nice words and compliments coupled with threats on Monday in Vienna.
Asked by this reporter if Iran's patience with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not reached its end, Mr. Mohammad Hoseyn Mousavian, the spokesman of the Iranian delegation said “we will wait until November”, an answer analysts immediately translated as a warning to the IAEA and Europe.
But IAEA's Egyptian General Director Mohammad ElBarade’i said that there was no deadline for ending an investigation into Iran's nuclear program, even though Iran said it expects the probe to wrap up in November.
Britain, France and Germany, known as Europe's "Big 3" are reported to have offered Iran until November
"It’s an open process and we will finish when I believe we are finished", said ElBarade’i, as he went into a meeting of the IAEA.
Britain, France and Germany, known as Europe's "Big 3" are reported to have offered Iran until November to respond to concern about its nuclear program, in a draft resolution that brings them closer to Washington’s hard line policy on Iran.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw vowed to maintain pressure on Iran over its nuclear plans, warning that Tehran had made commitments and now must fulfill them.
"We've taken a consistent line, a firm line in respect to Iran with our partners in France and in Germany," he said, referring to the trio of EU heavyweights who have led Europe's diplomatic offensive with Tehran.
He said that Iran had promised the EU trio last October that they would suspend all uranium enrichment and related activities. "Since then they have said that they are going to restart part of that process.
"That has undermined confidence in the international community in Iran's intentions; they cannot turn the issue of confidence on and off like a tap," he said.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer echoed Straw's comments.
"We think Iran should do everything to meet its commitments," he said. It is in their interests," he said, warning of "the risk of a miscalculation" by Tehran.
"I hope they realize that ... otherwise we will find ourselves in a serious situation".
The United States and Europe appeared close to agreement at the IAEA board of governors meeting over setting a deadline for Iran to allay suspicions that it is secretly making atomic weapons.
"I never set any deadlines ... it depends on the cooperation of Iran and it depends on other member states", ElBarade’i told the press ahead of the meeting of the IAEA`s Board of Governors to discuss Iran’s nuclear case.
However, he urged Iran to do its “utmost” to continue to pursue a policy of full transparency and show full and active cooperation with the IAEA.
“I would urge Iran, therefore, to continue to accelerate its cooperation, pursuing a policy of maximum transparency and confidence building, so that we can bring the remaining outstanding issues to resolution within the next few months and provide assurance to the international community”, he added.
Talking to reporters minutes before the start of the meeting, Mr. Mousavian repeated that not only Iran has fulfilled its engagements, but has even gone further by opening sites and projects to the Agency's experts that were not included in the agreements.
According to Mr. Mousavian, who, as the Head of the Supreme Council on National Security's international department, is considered Iran's number two negotiator with the IAEA, although suspending enriching uranium was a voluntary and temporarily decision, but Iran continue not enriching uranium, one of the central issues in ongoing talks between Iran, the IAEA and the European trio made of Britain, France and Germany.
"We think Iran should do everything to meet its commitments" said German Foreign Affairs Minister Joska Fischer. It is in their interests" he said, warning of "the risk of a miscalculation" by Tehran
Addressing reporters on the sidelines of the sixth session of the IAEA Board of Governors on Iran, ElBarade’i stressed that such a move by Iran would help settle the remaining issues within the next few months and would provide assurances to the international community.
“I have continued to stress to Iran that, during this delicate phase while work is still in progress to verify its past nuclear programme, and in light of serious international concerns surrounding that programme, it should do its utmost to build the required confidence through the Agency,” he said in his introductory statement to the opening of the Agency’s Board of Governors meeting in Vienna.
"To me this should be precursor or trigger for a broader dialogue on many of the underlying issues that are under discussion between Iran and the Europeans in particular and the international community in general", he added.
Confirming the Iranian side of the issue, Mr. ElBarade’i also noted that no additional undeclared Iranian activities had come to light since his last report to the Board in June.
“Iran has also provided new information in response to Agency requests, although in certain instances the process needed to be accelerated”, he said, adding that progress was also made towards ascertaining the source of high enriched uranium (HEU) found at the Kalaye Electric Company and Natanz, in part due to the cooperation provided by other States, and it appears plausible that this HEU contamination may not have resulted from enrichment by Iran at these locations. But the IAEA is continuing to pursue the identification of sources and reasons for such contamination.
The IAEA voiced hope that the ongoing board deliberations would "go smoothly".
He termed the discussions on Iran’s nuclear program an "important issue".
"With regards to advanced centrifuges, again we are making some progress but we still need to have further information to make sure to confirm or validate Iran`s statement that nothing has happened in the period of 1995 until 2002".
To a question about IAEA and the West’s “double standard” regarding Iran and Israel, a country that is said to have hundreds of nuclear warheads while no stone is left unturned to prevent Iran getting nuclear technologies, Mr. ElBarade’i pointed out that while Tehran is a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Jewish State, or Pakistan, the first Muslim country with Atomic bomb, are not.
“We have obligations towards members of the NPT”, ELBarade’i answered, adding that he hoped to see al nations becoming member of the Treaty.
Iran accuses both the IAEA and the West, headed by the United States, to prevent the country getting “what is its legitimate right under the NPT, meaning access to advanced nuclear technology for peaceful purposes”.
Iranian officials in charge of the nuclear issue accuses the European Union’s trio to have breached their part of the agreement signed last October in Tehran, assuring to help Iran getting the technology against signing the Additional Protocols to the NPT and suspending enriching uranium. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 13904