Iran takes tough stance in nuclear dispute
3 March 2005 , TEHERAN - Despite military threats, possible sanctions and renewed international isolation, Iran seems set to stay tough on its stance on continuing its nuclear projects. The message to the Europeans is very clear: tangible progress is needed until mid-March to continue the nuclear talks, otherwise we are not legally obliged to go on with the negotiations," said Hussein Mussavian, spokesman for the Iranian nuclear delegation team. Unlike other political issues, the Iranian administration is
3 March 2005
TEHERAN - Despite military threats, possible sanctions and renewed international isolation, Iran seems set to stay tough on its stance on continuing its nuclear projects.
The message to the Europeans is very clear: tangible progress is needed until mid-March to continue the nuclear talks, otherwise we are not legally obliged to go on with the negotiations," said Hussein Mussavian, spokesman for the Iranian nuclear delegation team.
Unlike other political issues, the Iranian administration is quite unanimous on the nuclear case and has several times stressed that the dispute should be settled under a give-and-tale" approach.
Even the moderate President Mohammad Khatami has taken a tough tone and said that it is the nation's will to have peaceful nuclear technology, adding that his government would pursue this with or without the Europeans and at whatever price required.
According to Teheran, the European Union trio of Britain, France and Germany inked an agreement last November in Paris which pledged Teheran to suspend uranium enrichment for a period of three to six months - until March or June 2005. The goodwill gesture was made in return for nuclear, political, security and economic guarantees to Iran.
"The agreement clearly says suspension, not cessation, of the enrichment process, therefore both sides should stick to the Paris agreement," chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani said, referring to the EU call to at least extend the suspension period.
The nuclear guarantee includes a formula to be drawn up by the EU trio obliging Iran not to extend its nuclear programme to military projects. However, the Islamic state could produce its own nuclear fuel under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
According to the Paris agreement, the trio will further facilitate Iran to reach a broad-based trade agreement with the EU and remove any hindrance by the United States, especially in gaining the long- sought membership at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"For example in case of the delivery of Airbus passenger planes to Iran, the Europeans need the American blessing as some parts of the Airbus are US-made or in the case of Irans WTO membership, they have to push Washington to revise its constant opposition," Mussavian said.
Teheran has welcomed the possibility that the US might join the EU trio in the talks with Iran.
The turn would be necessary for the US for not eventually standing as the main party responsible for a probable failure of the Iran-EU nuclear talks," Mussavian said.
"Fact is however that any European effort to settle the issue requires the consensus of also non-European states, including the U.S.," he added, justifying Irans welcoming for the new moves coming from the administration of U.S. President George Bush.
Irans initial deadline is 17 or 18 March after the final report of the talks with the E.U. in the first three-month phase will be presented to Iranian leaders to decide whether to continue the talks.
It is not a question of a final agreement, but at least we need some bright prospects and preparation of some effective grounds for encouraging us to continue the talks," said Rowhani, who is also secretary of the National Security Council.
Teheran has rejected recent EU accusations on the existence of an underground tunnel at the Isfahan uranium plant and that Iran has been conducting quality control tests on centrifuge components.
The Iranians said that the tunnel had already been brought to the attention of the IAEA and added that only repair and maintenance was carried out on the centrifuges, which is permissible under IAEA regulations.
The Europeans are seeking excuses and trying to get the upper hand for having failed to fulfil their obligations until the March deadline," Iranian spokesman Mussavian said.
Russia has already taken the first step towards enabling Iran to go nuclear by signing last week a contract for nuclear fuel delivery for the atomic power plant in the southern Persian Gulf port of Bushehr which would allow the plant to become operational by the end of 2006.
"We have had the first three month period, we might have a second one (until June) as well, but all depending on the European performance," Mussavian said.
Observers consider it probable that Iran will extend the talks until June but doubt that Teheran will make any concessions to other EU-US demands, especially those in connection with the Middle East.
EU demands that Iran adopt a positive approach towards the Middle East peace process, use its influence on anti-Israeli militia groups to stop their operations and eventually acknowledge Israel as a sovereign state could eventually even overshadow the nuclear dispute.
Subject: German news