Friday, September 16, 2005

Western leaders await Iran move

Western leaders are waiting to hear what Iran's new president will say at the United Nations about the country's nuclear program.

A report in The Financial Times says Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will invite countries such as Russia, China and South Africa to cooperate in Tehran's nuclear program, to ensure it isn't used to make weapons.

Quoting unnamed senior Iranian officials, the newspaper says Ahmadinejad will propose the deal to the U.N. general assembly on Saturday. READ MORE

The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana appealed to Ahmadinejad Thursday after tough talks with his foreign minister and national security adviser at the United Nations headquarters.

The three nations say Europe's position hasn't changed and they are waiting for the Ahmadinejad proposal this weekend.

The United States, which has no direct ties with Iran, and the European Union fear the Islamic Republic will use its nuclear program to create weapons.

The European Union has been negotiating with Iran, but no agreement has been reached.

Earlier Thursday Ahmadinejad told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that his country is ready and willing to give peaceful nuclear technology to Islamic states, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported Thursday.

"The Islamic Republic never seeks weapons of mass destruction and with respect to the needs of Islamic countries, we are ready to transfer nuclear know-how to these countries," said Ahmadinejad in a meeting with Erdogan during this week's U.N. World Summit.

Iran insists that its program has nothing to do with weaponry and instead reflects its awareness of decreasing oil reserves.

"We have firmly decided to use this technology for peaceful purposes within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, international regulations and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency," Ahmadinejad said.

The president again criticized nations, such as the United States, that have large nuclear weapons arsenals but oppose Iran's program.

Ahmadinejad and Erdogan discussed strengthening economic ties between Turkey and Iran, which the Iranian president said he prefers to direct contact with Europe. Erdogan invited the Iranian president to pay an official visit to Ankara, IRNA said.