Iran incentives package on track by weekend: EU

1st August 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 August 2005, BRUSSELS/TEHRAN - The European Union on Monday insisted that a new package of incentives to dissuade Iran from resuming nuclear enrichment activities would be ready by the end of the week, saying the offer would allow Tehran to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme.

1 August 2005

BRUSSELS/TEHRAN - The European Union on Monday insisted that a new package of incentives to dissuade Iran from resuming nuclear enrichment activities would be ready by the end of the week, saying the offer would allow Tehran to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme.

E.U. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were surprised and disappointed that Tehran had decided to announce its resumption of uranium enrichment without waiting for the promised E.U. package.

Asked if the E.U. offer would include help for Iran to pursue a civilian nuclear power programme in return for a permanent end to all uranium enrichment activity, one E.U. diplomat said the package was "faithful" to the agreement reached in Paris last year which recognised Tehran's right to pursue a civilian nuclear programme.

The comments appeared to contradict a statement Monday by the deputy of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Saaidi, who said on state television that the E.U. package was not expected to acknowledge Iran's demands for pursuing civilian nuclear programmes.

As such it did not matter whether the E.U. offer arrived now or next week and was not worth waiting for, Saaidi said.

In Brussels, however, E.U. diplomats said they were sticking to their earlier commitments.

A planned package of E.U. incentives designed to persuade Iran to permanently suspend its nuclear enrichment activities would be delivered to Tehran as scheduled by the end of the week, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

As such, Iran's decision to make an early announcement on restarting nuclear work was "surprising", the official said, adding that E.U. contacts with Tehran were still under way.

Britain, France and Germany - joined by E.U. foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana - have been seeking for several months to persuade Tehran to put a permanent freeze on its nuclear programme, fearing this could lead to the development of nuclear weapons.

Tehran insists, however, that any uranium enrichment activities it undertakes will be for producing nuclear fuel for civilian use by local plants.

The EU-3 have warned that any breaking-off of the nuclear talks and Iran's resumption of uranium enrichment could mean referring the country to the United Nations Security Council.

The United States has long urged such a move which could involve possible sanctions against Iran.

Meanwhile Iran on Monday played down the turmoil caused by its decision to resume parts of its nuclear activities by saying that the activities at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) would be no violation of previous agreements with the European Union.

"We are still committed to suspension of uranium enrichment and still willing to continue talks with the E.U. and the activities in Isfahan are no violation of previous agreements with the E.U.," Supreme National Security Council Spokesman Ali Aqamohammadi told the IRNA news agency.

IRNA had reported that a relevant letter was delivered Monday noon to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on resumption of UCF in Isfahan but the full contents were not disclosed.

Aqamohammadi reiterated that IAEA inspectors are at the Isfahan site in central Iran and all activities will be made under full IAEA supervision.

The spokesman said that the seals in Isfahan would be removed by Monday evening which the E.U. trio Britain, France and Germany consider as a unilateral act by Iran and in breach of previous agreements.

Neither the government of President Mohammad Khatami nor the outgoing nuclear delegation have yet reacted to the SNSC decision to remove the seals in Isfahan.

The deputy of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Saaidi, said that process would take "less than 30 minutes".

Iran's nuclear energy aims became embroiled in contradictory remarks at a seminar Monday in Tehran concerning when a deadline posed to the E.U. actually ends.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi told reporters that Iran's deadline to the European Union ends at 1700 local time (1230 GMT) Monday while the SNSC had set the deadline for the same time Sunday.

Also, Saaidi said that the deadline was on Sunday and that the SNSC had already decided in a special session to resume operations in Isfahan under IAEA supervision.

While most of the officials refrained from giving a precise date, the chairman of the nuclear seminar and senior MP, Ahmad Tavakoli, said that the Isfahan plant would be unsealed right after the deadline on Monday.

The other officials at the nuclear seminar neither confirmed nor denied Tavakoli's claim but said that a relevant letter has been sent to the IAEA in this regard.

Local reporters said that the resumption of the activities would be broadcast live on state television IRIB and that an IRIB crew has already been set up at Isfahan.

The main nuclear delegation team, headed by SNSC secretary Hassan Rowhani, has not yet reacted to the resumption of the nuclear activities and also outgoing President Mohammad Khatami refrained from commenting on the latest developments.

Rowhani and his main team which has been in touch with the E.U. since October 2003 over the nuclear dispute will reportedly be changed by officials close to new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The nuclear seminar on Monday was arranged by Ahmadinejad's ultraconservative Abadgaran party which also controls the parliament.

Informed sources at the seminar said that with Rowhani leaving and the new nuclear team not yet officially formed, there is great uncertainty about the Iranian administration's policy on nuclear issues, in turn helping to explain the contradictory remarks.

Iranian officials however reiterated Monday their determination to resume atomic activities after the E.U. reportedly rejected Tehran's latest proposal granting the go-ahead for any nuclear activity.

Saaidi confirmed press reports that Iran has decided to restart the Isfahan nuclear plant but stressed that no nuclear enrichment will be effected in Isfahan where only raw uranium will be turned into gas ready for enrichment.

Iran says that the Isfahan plant has never been the subject of the October 2003 suspension deal with the E.U. as no real enrichment is actually taking place there.

The E.U., however, wants any enrichment process to be suspended as the process for producing nuclear fuel could also be used to manufacture atomic bombs.

The official added that Iran would keep its international commitments and not resume the activities in the Natanz plant, central Iran, where the uranium enrichment process takes place.

Saaidi had told state television that Iran still wanted to continue talks with the E.U. but only over resumption of activities in Natanz.

Iran has said that any uranium enrichment is for producing nuclear fuel for local plants, but the Europeans have rejected this as the same process could be used for making nuclear weapons.

© DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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