VIENNA 2 March (IPS) As the United States and the European Union’s so-called Big 3 increased pressures over Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic of gross violations of its engagements with the international nuclear watchdog, a senior Iranian negotiator downplayed the accusations.
“Compared to previous meetings, I would say the situation is less dramatic”, Mr. Cyrus Naseri, the official representative of the Iranian government at the talks in Vienna told Iran Press Service.
Asked about Americans renewed demand for the transfer of Iran’s controversial nuclear projects to the United Nations Security council, he said Iran was “not afraid” of such a possibility.
Compared to previous meetings, I would say the situation is less dramatic.
That demand was renewed Wednesday in Vienna by the American Ambassador at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ms. Jackie Sanders, telling the present session of the Agency’s 35 members Board of Governors that the Board had a "statutory obligation" to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
“Iran was willing and apparently able to cynically manipulate the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the pursuit of nuclear weapons", she told the audience, adding, "The Security Council has the international legal and political authority that will bring this issue to a successful and peaceful resolution".
“What can they (the Americans) get at the United Nations if not pushing us to leave the talks and go our way?”, Mr. Naseri said during a telephone interview from Paris, expressing the hope that “all problems would be solved with time and patience”.
Indirectly, he was referring to a possible veto by Russia in case the Security Council decided to impose sanctions on Tehran.
The two countries signed Sunday 27 February 2005 an important agreement over the transfer to Russia of the spent fuel from the 1000 megawatt nuclear-powered electricity plant Russia is building at the Persian Gulf of Booshehr.
In response to other accusations raised at the ongoing meeting, including Tehran’s refusal to allow IAEA’s experts to inspect Parchin military complex, Mr. Naseri observed that “this was neither mandatory, nor necessary and in any way, we are obliged to oblige”, he pointed out, adding that the issue was “exaggerated by the media”.
He was referring to a statement by IAEA’s deputy Chief Pierre Goldschmidt, telling the Board that Iran had rejected a demand to inspect Parchin and Lavizan sites, suspected of being operated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for producing nuclear components for military purposes.
Mr. Naseri also expressed “deep concerns’ on what he described as "confidentiality of information" exchanged between Iranian negotiators and IAEA officials, particularly its boss, Mr. Mohammad ElBarade’i, a hint to reports of the US and UK are monitoring secretly the conversations in the one hand and the possibility of the presence of spies amongst visiting experts on the other.
“Information gathered on such visits "are more intense in view of potential threats of military strikes against ... facilities visited by (the) agency", he told reporters in Vienna.
“In addition, Iran is pressing ahead with work on a heavy-water reactor that can make weapons-grade plutonium, despite an IAEA resolution last September asking the Islamic Republic to refrain from this "as a further confidence-building measure", Dr. Goldschnidt reported, adding that Iran had also failed to report “in a timely manner" about tunnels it is building at a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan where nuclear material or equipment can be stored.
In an interview last week with the French influential daily “Le Monde”, Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, Iran’s chief negotiator on nuclear issue confirmed the existence of the tunnels for the first time.
“What shall we do, when menaced by some powers to destroy our nuclear facilities? We have to save them in one way or another”, he told Le Monde.
Iran was willing and apparently able to cynically manipulate the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.
France, Britain and Germany, spearheading the atomic talks with Iran, also criticized Tehran for not keeping its pledge to suspend all sensitive parts of its nuclear program.
In a statement to the board, the EU trio cited Iran's pledge to suspend activities linked to uranium enrichment, and said Tehran's recent cleaning and quality control work on enrichment centrifuge parts was "of serious concern”.
Mr. Naseri said abandoning uranium enrichment was not a topic that would be up for discussion with the Europeans when they meet later this month. "This is something that is not on the table and will not be on the table", Naseri said, quoted by the French news agency AFP.
And another Iranian diplomat associated with the nuclear talks said Iran and its three European interlocutors were “in the same boat” and have to cooperate closely with each other.
“Iran-EU negotiating teams should pursue the issue of Islamic Republic’s nuclear program logically and according to a planned timetable, as agreed in Paris on 15 November 2004”, Mr. Sadeq Kharrazi, Iran’s current Ambassador in France told the Iranian satellite network Jam-e-Jam.
As talks continued Wednesday unabated, verbal threats escalated, with high-ranking Iranian military menacing Washington with “dire retaliations” if it attacks Iran nuclear and military installations.
“If attacked, we would retaliate within one second”, added Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s Defence Minister – probably not making difference between second, hour, day, week or month --.
“The United States has some 190.000 troops engaged in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, making it an easy target for Iran”, warned General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the Commander of the ruling ayatollahs Praetorian Guards. ENDS IRAN NUKE IAEA 2305