Monday, May 29, 2006

Russia: World Powers Ready to Guarantee Iran's Right to Nuclear Energy

Yahoo News:
The world's major powers are ready to guarantee Iran's right to develop nuclear energy provided Tehran cooperates fully with the UN nuclear safety agency, Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying. "We are prepared to guarantee Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy on the condition that it answers the questions that the IAEA has raised," Interfax and ITAR-TASS news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying on Monday, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Lavrov said representatives of the five permanent UN Security Council countries along with Germany were talking this week about formulating a basis for resumption of negotiation with Iran over controls on its nuclear activities. READ MORE

The United States accuses Iran of pursuing plans to build nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program which is being developed with Russia's help.

Iran denies this, while Moscow has stressed that Tehran's nuclear work must remain strictly for energy.

"We are ready and mutually interested in drawing Iran into full economic cooperation as well as in cooperation in regional security," Lavrov said as he met in Moscow with the head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Any guarantees to Iran would be contingent on Tehran's full compliance with its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and within the guidelines of the IAEA, the Russian minister said.

His comments came at the start of a crucial week of international diplomacy among senior diplomats of the world's leading powers.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia -- will join Germany on Tuesday in a teleconference among political directors of their respective foreign ministries.

They will try work out a package of incentives and dissuasive measures aimed at persuading Iran to renounce some of its most sensitive nuclear work. The six nations' foreign ministers would then meet to finalize that proposal, possibly somewhere in Europe by the end of the week.

As Lavrov spoke, Iran again vowed to press on with uranium enrichment despite international community calls to stop the sensitive nuclear work.

"Enrichment will continue on Iranian territory within the framework of Iran's peaceful nuclear programme and the IAEA," government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters in Tehran.

"The information that Iran would quit uranium enrichment on its soil and transfer it to Russia is not correct," he said.

On Sunday Russian National Security Council chief Igor Ivanov and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak held a series of meetings with top Iranian officials led by Ali Larijani, Tehran's top negotiator.

Russia has been offering to produce nuclear fuel on Iran's behalf in order to ease fears Tehran would divert its enrichment programme to making warheads.