Iran attaches conditions to nuclear compromise
25 November 2005, VIENNA/TEHRAN - Iran declared itself willing in principle to cooperate with Russia over uranium enrichment Friday, but insisted it be allowed to carry out part of the enrichment on Iranian soil.
25 November 2005
VIENNA/TEHRAN - Iran declared itself willing in principle to cooperate with Russia over uranium enrichment Friday, but insisted it be allowed to carry out part of the enrichment on Iranian soil.
The offer came as the political tug-of-war between Iran and the West over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme entered a new and critical phase.
The two sides faced off at the two-day International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting in Vienna that ended Friday after Russia was brought in to help mediate the stand-off.
"After the European Union Trio failure, we are interested in seeing Russia put an end to the nuclear dead end," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the parliamentary foreign policy commission said.
The U.S. and the European Union - represented by the trio of Britain, France and Germany - decided not to pursue their threat to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But the message to Iran's ultra-conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was clear: "The window for diplomacy will not remain open for ever," British Ambassador Peter Jenkins warned.
His U.S. counterpart Greg Shulte said, "We will report Iran to the Security Council, but we will choose the time."
Iran had delivered the E.U. Trio a slap in the face in when it resumed uranium conversion at its nuclear plant in Isfahan just two weeks before the IAEA meeting, in direct violation of what the E.U. believed to be an agreement from November 2004.
The conversion of raw uranium ore to uranium hexafluoride gas is the first step in the process of uranium enrichment. Low-grade enriched uranium is used to generate power, whereas high-grade material can be used to produce atomic weapons.
The West suspects that Iran has a secret programme to produce weapons and demanded again before the U.N. nuclear watchdog Friday that Tehran reveal the truth about its 18-year-old nuclear programme.
Iran denies that its programme is anything but peaceful and has prevented international checks of some of its military facility.
The recent proposal by the E.U. Trio to allow Iran to convert uranium ore domestically but pass the uranium hexafluoride gas on to Russia for enrichment was an attempt to unblock the impasse.
Boroujerdi, who works closely with the Iranian nuclear delegation, said that Iran would be ready to do part of the enrichment in Russia but simultaneously another part of the enrichment in the Natanz plant in central Iran.
Boroujerdi's remark was the first clear stance by Tehran on the Russian proposal backed by the E.U. and the United States.
Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said earlier Friday that Iran was ready to remove all ambiguities surrounding its nuclear programme - but he warned against any "ultimatums and adventurism".
"These kinds of complicated issues need time and patience before reaching a settlement," Rafsanjani said in Tehran after Friday prayers.
Subject: German news