Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Iran Tells EU to Back Down on Nukes

Reuters, Yahoo! News:
Iranian officials have threatened to break off negotiations with France, Britain and Germany if the three European Union heavyweights continue to insist that Tehran abandon all sensitive atomic activities.

European officials began a new round of talks with Iranian negotiators in Geneva aimed at working out a permanent resolution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme, which Washington says is a front to build atomic weapons. ...

"If the Europeans refuse our proposals in the talks during the next couple of days, their proposals will be strongly opposed by Iran as well," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi was quoted as saying by Iran's students news agency, ISNA.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, European diplomats close to the talks told Reuters no breakthroughs were expected. read more

In a further sign of defiance, Iran's parliament on Tuesday added a clause to next year's budget bill obliging the government to conduct feasibility studies for the construction of nuclear power plants that would generate 20 gigawatts (GW) of electricity.

The government has so far only announced plans for producing 7 GW of power from nuclear reactors by 2020. Iran's first 1 GW reactor is due to come on stream in late 2006. Despite abundant oil and gas reserves Iran says it needs atomic energy to preserve its export revenues from fossil fuels.

The official IRNA news agency said lawmakers also obliged the government "to take necessary measures to produce and supply part of the fuel" for the reactors.


The EU says Iran must provide "objective guarantees" that it is not pursuing atomic weapons -- which they say can be nothing short of a termination of enrichment. Iran says increased inspections and limits on enrichment levels would suffice.

Sirus Naseri, a senior member of Iran's negotiating team, told Iran's state television from Geneva that without a compromise there would be no point in further negotiations.

"If ambiguities over the guarantees remain in place, continuation of the talks will be meaningless," he said.

This view was seconded by others in Tehran.

"If the Europeans demand and insist on cessation, it will mean the end of the negotiations," Ali Aghamohammadi, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council's Propaganda Office, told state radio on Monday.

"In that case, surely we will resume our uranium enrichment activities. Also we will accelerate our activities to master the nuclear fuel cycle," he said. ...