PARIS, 10 SEPT. (IPS) As Britain, France and Germany adopted a tougher language, if not attitude towards Iran, going closer to the position of the United States, Tehran reiterated Friday commitments to its nuclear ambitions.
Europe’s “Big 3” demanded that Tehran halt all parts of the atomic fuel cycle that can be used to make nuclear weapons, the British news agency Reuters quoted Western diplomats in Vienna, where the United Nations nuclear watchdog is based.
"It's by no means certain that there will be a deal", a Western diplomat close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Reuters, referring to the meeting of the Agency’s Board of Directors on Monday 13 September.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a close associate of Iran’s leader, ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i repeated that Iran “would never forebear its natural right to achieve nuclear technology.
“The IAEA and the EU trio had made their position clear and it was now up to the Iranians to say yes, or no”, he pointed out, adding that the case of Iran would probably be reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if Tehran do not oblige with the demands.
However, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the Secretary of the powerful Council of the Guardians and a close associate of Iran’s leader, ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i repeated that the Iranian nation “would never forebear its natural right to achieve nuclear technology for peaceful purposes".
Speaking to worshipers during the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran, the hard line cleric accused the West; with the United States at its head of not allowing the Islamic Republic acquiring nuclear technologies, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
The United States, Israel and some European countries suspects Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian power program.
In response, Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear projects are for producing electricity.
Talks between Iranian officials and the U.N. nuclear watchdog ahead of Monday's key meeting at the agency's Vienna headquarters had produced no agreement by Friday afternoon and diplomats said it was unclear whether any would be reached.
The EU trio hope to submit a resolution to the IAEA board meeting next week that stops short of reporting Iran to the Security Council for violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But they are waiting for Iran's response on the suspension before circulating anything, diplomats said.
"They keep inventing pretexts and often repeat that
these (the Iranians) are after manufacturing nuclear weapons", Ayatollah Jannati went on, adding: "The Iranian nation has made up its mind and the Supreme Leader, too, stands firm over this issue, so it is absolutely impossible that the Iranian nation would forebear its natural right to get access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes".
On Tuesday, diplomats said Iran had agreed in principle to suspend its uranium enrichment programme -- a suspension it had promised in October 2003. The major sticking point now is Iran's refusal to accept EU demands that it abandon uranium conversion.
Iran says that uranium conversion was never part of the original suspension agreement.
Iran recently announced plans to convert 37 tonnes of milled "yellowcake" uranium into uranium hexafluoride (UF6), the feed material for centrifuges used to purify uranium for use as fuel in atomic power plants or in weapons.
This announcement was harshly condemned by European and U.S. officials.
Experts say the amount of UF6 obtained from this process could theoretically be enriched into fuel for one to five bombs
Last October, the trio signed an agreement in Tehran with Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, Iran’s senior negotiator with the IAEA and Europe on Iranian nuclear activities to the effect that Iran would suspend enriching uranium and signing the Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty against getting access to advanced nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes.
Iran recently announced plans to convert 37 tonnes of uranium into UF6 that can be also used for making bombs
However, IAEA experts were quick to find out that not only Iran had not met its engagements, but had added new centrifuges to its nuclear arsenal for enriching uranium.
But Mr. Rohani who is also the Secretary of the regime’s supreme Council of National Security counter accused the “Big 3” of not respecting their part of commitments or presents an illogical or harsh resolutions.
“Iran considers controlling the nuclear fuel cycle its legitimate and basic right", he said, pledging however that Iran was prepared to deal with any decision the atomic energy agency's board may take.
''Whenever Iran gets practically close to enrichment issues, the sensitivity of the Europeans rises, and whenever we practically distance ourselves from enrichment, their tone changes and you see a smile on their faces", he said.
On Thursday 9 September, a senior British official warned Iran that if it do not agree with the IAEA suspending enriching uranium until November, its case might be transferred to the United Nations security Council for possible trade sanctions.
This possibility was discussed by the Group of Eight (G-8) when officials from the group met in Geneva on Thursday, hosted by the U.S. Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton.
“The discussions will give the officials a chance to sort out differences over the approach to next week's meeting of the board of the IAEA, amidst speculations that the Euro 3 has moved closer to the United States over an IAEA investigation of Iran that began in February 2003, as both sides agree that “this process is not going to go on forever”, according to the French news agency AFP quoting a diplomat close to the IAEA. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 10904