Friday, September 16, 2005

Iran Says Bush Gives Iran-EU Nuclear Talks New life

Reuters, ABC News:
Comments by U.S. President George W. Bush underlining Iran's right to a nuclear energy programme have given fresh impetus to Tehran's talks with the European Union, a senior Iranian official said on Friday. READ MORE

Two years of discussions between Tehran and the EU trio of Britain, Germany and France broke down last month after Iran rejected an EU proposal to resolve the nuclear issue and broke U.N. seals at a uranium conversion plant.

Washington and its allies had wanted Iran's case escalated to the U.N. Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board of governors which meets on Monday. But Western officials have acknowledged in recent days that they may lack international support for such a move.

Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met the foreign ministers of the EU trio on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday.

"After the talks with the Europeans they know now that we haven't been planning to defeat Europe ... I think the talks (with the EU trio) will be resumed," said Ali Aghamohammadi, spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

Speaking to Reuters in Tehran, Aghamohammadi highlighted Bush's comments this week in which he acknowledged Iran's right to develop nuclear technology for power generation and suggested Washington would be happy for Iran to import nuclear fuel to feed atomic reactors.

"Bush's speech has provided the Europeans with the space they needed to continue talks with Iran," he said. "Bush's speech was an obvious retreat from his past stances, thus paving the way for further negotiations."


Ahmadinejad has promised to deliver his own proposal on resolving the nuclear standoff with the West during a speech to the U.N. on Saturday.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that the proposal would contain a compromise deal which would see countries including Russia and China co-operating in its nuclear programme to ensure it is not used to make weapons.

"Iran will suggest international co-operation for uranium enrichment," the paper quoted a senior official as saying.

"(It will) invite Europe, Russia, China and South Africa to joint ventures in which Iran keeps its nuclear fuel cycle while the international community can make sure there is no diversion."

Aghamohammadi declined to discuss the contents of Ahmadinejad's proposal but noted that Iran had previously invited other countries to participate in its nuclear programme to ensure that it remained peaceful.

"Bearing in mind the whole situation I believe his offer will be considerable and they (the West) will not be able to just ignore it."

But chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, speaking to Iranian state radio from New York, made it clear that Iran was not prepared to give up what it considers its right to develop a full nuclear cycle, including uranium enrichment.

"Iran has always welcomed talks with the three European countries and other countries about confidence building, however the talks should not to turn confidence building into a tool to deprive Iran of its right to nuclear technology," he said.

"We hope that Europe's attitude in the IAEA and the next meeting of the board of governors leads to solving problems by negotiation."