Germany 'regrets' Iran's decision on Russia talks
13 February 2006, TEHRAN/MOSCOW/VIENNA - Inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were reported consulting with Iran Monday on removing remaining seals and monitoring cameras from its nuclear plants - while diplomatic circles in Vienna claimed Iran had already begun preparations for uranium enrichment.
13 February 2006
TEHRAN/MOSCOW/VIENNA - Inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were reported consulting with Iran Monday on removing remaining seals and monitoring cameras from its nuclear plants - while diplomatic circles in Vienna claimed Iran had already begun preparations for uranium enrichment.
Iran's government spokesman meanwhile said Iran will not now be holding scheduled talks with Russia Thursday on a joint uranium enrichment plan.
Iran's Fars news agency quoted an informed source as saying that, after consultaions, the 12 IAEA inspectors in Iran would immediately start to remove the IAEA seals and cameras from the nuclear plants of Isfahan and Natanz, both located in central Iran.
Following the removal, both plants would resume their full work which had been suspended in the last two-and-a-half years, the source told Fars.
Iranian officials confirmed the presence of the IAEA inspectors in Tehran, but had yet to state clearly what the inspectors and Iranian officials would be doing in the plants.
Activity is currently going on in the uranium conversion plant in Isfahan and Iran has also resumed nuclear research work, including what local officials call "uranium enrichment-related activities."
Diplomatic circles in Vienna, where the IAEA has its headquarters, claimed Monday that Iranian technicians in recent days have begun preparations for the enrichment of uranium by introducing gas into a centrifuge in the Natanz facility. The IAEA did not comment on this.
Meanwhile Iran's government spokesman said earlier Monday that Iran will for the time being not hold talks with Russia on a joint uranium enrichment plan.
Gholam-Hussein Elham told reporters in Tehran that the talks will not be held next Thursday in Moscow as previously scheduled but should take place at a later date.
The spokesman's remarks came after the Iranian foreign ministry had several times stressed that the talks will be held as planned on February 16.
Russian authorities did not regard the Iranian move as a rejection of the proposal.
"Our proposal addressed to Tehran for creating a joint venture and for holding consultations in Moscow on February 16 remains on the table," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak told the Itar-Tass news agency.
Elham reiterated that the Russian plan for enriching Iranian uranium on Russian territory could only be accepted by Tehran as a supplementary plan to enrichment inside Iran.
The Russian proposal has been widely regarded as the only realistic option to bring the dispute over Iran's controversial atomic programme out of the current deadlock.
In Berlin, deputy German Foreign Ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner expressed disappointment over the move. "If these reports are true we would regret this step," said Ploetner at a news briefing.
"It would mean that the time until the next Board of Governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in March cannot be used as efficiently as possible ... to push forward with a diplomatic solution," he said.
Germany, Britain and France - the so-called EU-3 - held high level talks with Tehran over the past years in a bid to get Iran to give up its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and trade. But last month the EU-3 said talks had reached a "dead end" and passed Iran's nuclear programme on to the IAEA.
Subject: German news