Russia 'ready to host Iran's uranium enrichment'
24 November 2005, VIENNA - Russia on Thursday said it was ready to enter into an unprecedented nuclear deal with Iran aimed at breaking the deadlock in the international dispute over Iran's nuclear programme. In Tehran, the Iranian representative at the Vienna talks was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying the deal was acceptable "under certain conditions". Under the deal, Iran would be allowed to convert uranium inside Iran under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA
24 November 2005
VIENNA - Russia on Thursday said it was ready to enter into an unprecedented nuclear deal with Iran aimed at breaking the deadlock in the international dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.
In Tehran, the Iranian representative at the Vienna talks was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying the deal was acceptable "under certain conditions".
Under the deal, Iran would be allowed to convert uranium inside Iran under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but send it to Russia for enrichment.
The deal, also welcomed by the United States, is aimed at guaranteeing that Iran would not misuse the enrichment process for making atomic weapons but only for producing nuclear fuel.
Speaking at the meeting in Vienna of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Russian envoy Gregory Berdennikov said Moscow was not seeking a "monopoly" on cooperation with Iran. The compromise proposal was under discussion in Vienna.
A spokesman for the Iranian nuclear delegation in Vienna, Javad Vaeidi, told IRNA that before considering any proposal, Iran's right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology should be acknowledged.
He said there must also be assurances that Iran would not to be deprived of any nuclear fuel cycle activities, and at the same time be allowed to have foreign cooperation and assistance in this field.
"In that case, we would welcome the Russian proposal," Vaedi said.
Vaeidi further said that Iran would continue nuclear talks with the E.U. - but only if the agenda and timetable were fully clarified in advance, in order that there be no further "time-wasting".
Iran had earlier on Thursday come under criticism at the meeting of the 35-member IAEA board, with both the European Union and the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog berating Tehran over its lack of transparency, but agreeing to allow more time for a settlement to be reached.
E.U. ambassador Peter Jenkins said the 25-member bloc was "deeply concerned" that the "failure of Iran to provide full transparency, after 18 years of concealment, continues to undermine Iran's claims that its programme is solely peaceful".
IAEA General Director Mohamed ElBaradei said more transparency was "indispensable" for his agency to clear up issues still open, above all the Iranian programme of uranium enrichment with the help of centrifuges. Clarification was "overdue", ElBaradei said.
Both sides however pledged to work towards restoring talks between Iran and the E.U. trio of France, Britain and Germany. The talks were halted in August at the behest of the European side but could resume in December.
The United States has led mainly Western countries which have long accused Iran of harbouring nuclear weapons ambitions and have called on Tehran to abstain from uranium enrichment activities, which can at higher grades have weapons applications.
Jenkins, who was speaking for the E.U. presidency, said Iran should not conclude that the current "window of opportunity" - meaning the ongoing efforts to resolve the dispute through diplomacy - would remain open "in all circumstances".
ElBaradei told the 35-member IAEA board that the agency had found no evidence that Iran had retracted its voluntary decision not to enrich uranium. He confirmed that Iran was continuing to transform uranium - which can be a preliminary stage to enrichment - at its Isfahan plant.
He said he continued to believe that comprehensive IAEA surveillance and an active dialogue among all concerned parties was the best way to make progress.
As the meeting was taking place a group of exiled Iranians, estimated to number several hundred, staged a demonstration outside the U.N.'s Vienna headquarters criticising the Tehran government and calling for the intervention of the U.N. Security Council in the nuclear row.
Subject: German news