Friday, March 18, 2005

Iran Has Told EU it Will Not Give Up Enrichment

Agence France-Presse:
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, said the Islamic Republic's nuclear negotiators have definitively and officially told Europeans that Iran will never accept a permanent halt to its enrichment programme.

"Iran's negotiating team has openly told Europeans Iran will not accept a permanent suspension of uranium enrichment and this is Iran's definitive and official position." Rowhani said Wednesday to the members of Experts' Assembly of clerics who appoint the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic. READ MORE

He asked Europeans not to be influenced by political pressures from the United States and "not to disrupt the confidence-building process between two sides", state television reported.

The two sides are to convene on March 23 for a high-level steering committee meeting, and Tehran hopes to see an agreement on "a formula that recognizes the right of Iran to continue enrichment and lifts the concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme", Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kahrazi told a press conference on Tuesday.

"In exchange, the Europeans have to give firm guarantees that open the path towards greater cooperation in the fields of politics and investment," Kharazi said.

Britain, France and Germany have been trying to secure "objective guarantees" that Iran will not use its atomic energy programme to acquire nuclear weapons, and in exchange they are offering a package of trade, security and technology benefits to the Islamic republic.

The best assurance for the European Union is that Iran permanently gives up uranium enrichment, which makes what can be fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but also the explosive core of atomic bombs.