PARIS, 14 Jan. (IPS) Less than 24 hours after Britain, France and Germany, backed by the United States warned Iran that its nuclear case would be referred to the United Nations Security Council, Tehran tendered an olive branch, calling on the Europeans to “return to the negotiation table and solving the issue peacefully”.
In a statement released almost at the same time that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad was speaking to journalists on Saturday 14 January 2006, the Foreign Affairs Ministry sent the ball to the European’s court, saying that the Islamic Republic of Iran “is ready to go ahead with negotiations and remove any ambiguity (with its nuclear activities) in the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT)”.
Iran believes that the standoff with European Union about nuclear program should be settled by negotiations.
“Iran believes that the standoff with European Union about nuclear program should be settled by negotiations and advised the European partners to be rational in dealing with Iran and Iranian rights”, the official news agency IRNA quoted from the statement, adding: "Iran has exercised the best cooperation with the UN nuclear agency and is ready to cooperate with the IAEA to clear ambiguities”.
The more or less expected back tracking of Tehran was however coupled with a warning that “in case the European Troika uses a language of pressure, intimidation and threats of extraordinary meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Directors or Security Council sanctions all possibilities of reaching a negotiated solution would be jeopardised”.
According to the original Farsi-language statement released by IRNA, -- one that is much conciliatory than the English translation provided by the same agency --“it should be clear that the talks must be serious, constructive, bearing results and with a timetable. However, transforming the negotiations into a one way process and a mechanism for further pressures and menaces, they would reach a dead end”. European states are expected to respect Iranian rights stipulated in Non-Proliferation Treaty and know that any illogical steps from them will backfire.
Foreign Affairs ministers of Britain, France and Germany decided in Berlin on Friday to call an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors of the IAEA to refer the controversial dossier of Iranian nuclear activities to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions against Tehran.
"We believe the time has now come for the Security Council to become involved to reinforce the authority of IAEA resolutions", the European troika, also known as EU3 said.
"We will, therefore, be calling for an extraordinary IAEA board meeting with a view for it to take the necessary action to that end", the statement further said.
"The talks with Iran are at a dead end", Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference held after the meeting, at which participated also the EU’s Foreign and Security Affairs minister Xavier Solana.
The Troika’s dramatic action was in response to the decision of the Islamic Republic to resume nuclear Research and Development activities at the central city of Natanz, an activity that according to IAEA’s Director Mohammad ElBarade’i is "small-scale" enrichment of uranium.
The two and half years-old Iran-EU3 talks were suspended by the Europeans last August after the Government of the newly elected President Ahmadi Nezhad resumed activities at the Uranium Conversion Centre near the historic city of Esfahan in central Iran, saying the move was against engagements undertaken by the Islamic Republic for suspending all nuclear programmes for the duration of negotiations.
The Saturday statement from the Ministry was in sharp contrast to earlier declaration of Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Manouchehr Mottaki who, on Thursday, had warned that in case Iran’s nuclear dossier is referred to the UN, Iran would immediately stop all the engagements for suspending nuclear activities.
Iranian soft attitude must have been the result of behind the scene warnings from the more moderate wing of the Iranian clerical-led leadership.
Analysts said the Iranian soft attitude must have been the result of behind the scene warnings from the more moderate wing of the Iranian clerical-led leadership and possible advises from Moscow to deescalate the growing tension between Tehran and the international community.
“The doors to negotiations are again half open. Tehran expects the Troika call off the Extraordinary meeting of the IAEA’s directors and setting a date for meeting the Iranians again”, one Iranian analyst speculated in the absence of reaction from Berlin, London and Paris.
“In reaction to the European states' propaganda campaign against Iranian nuclear program, the Foreign Ministry said that Iran voluntarily suspended nuclear enrichment since 2003 for confidence-building with the international community and the European states have no right to expect Iran not to go ahead with research works on utilising nuclear energy for civilian utility”, IRNA said, adding that “member states of UN nuclear agency are allowed to undertake research studies on nuclear technology and the research studies are being carried out under supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog”.
"It is surprising that the European states have embarked on illogical drive against resumption of research studies. It is surprising that they interpret their illogical approach toward Iranian nuclear program in a way that they are right to fabricate new charges everyday", the statement said challenging EU behavior as being “void of diplomatic norms”.
Repeating charges of Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad during his press conference, the statement accused the Western powers to object to resumption of research studies while they make huge use of the nuclear energy and also possess an extensive stockpile of nuclear arms. “They are interpreting international conventions in their own interest easily by excluding others from science and technology", it said.
"A wide range of activities are voluntarily suspended in accordance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty", the statement read, referring principally to the enrichment of uranium but warned that "Any illogical attempt to derail the process of solving the issue outside the technical and logical IAEA path will thoroughly change that".
During his press conference attended by more than 100 local and foreign journalists, Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad said that “research on what is called enrichment is currently underway in Iran and will continue, according to their specific legal definition”.
He strongly warned Western nations not to take any hard action against Iran, saying “you need us ten times more than we need you and besides, we have all the means to defend ourselves. So, don’t do anything that you would regret”, he stressed, without emphasising. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 14106