Thursday, August 04, 2005

Iran Calls Decision on Uranium 'Irreversible'

Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Christopher Adams, The Financial Times:
Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, on Wednesday defied threats from Britain, France and Germany to cut off talks on its nuclear programme and said the decision to resume uranium conversion activity was irreversible. In a strongly worded letter, the foreign ministers of the three European Union countries urged Iran not to resume enrichment of uranium at its Isfahan plant. They warned that resuming activity “would terminate our dialogue.

The US and Europe are worried that Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb. The issue could be referred to the United Nations Security Council if the EU-3 talks fail. Iran says it is developing a civil nuclear programme only.

They [the EU-3] have clearly told us that if uranium conversion activities start, the talks will be cut off, but this is not acceptable to us,” Mr Rowhani told state television. We are ready to continue the talks and the talks would never be cut off by us. But if Europe is willing to stop the talks, this is up to them . . . Iran is prepared to stand against any threats and in case of referral to the Security Council, it is the Europeans who will lose and not Iranians.” READ MORE

Iran had earlier threatened to resume enrichment on Wednesday but appeared to backtrack on Wednesday night, with Mr Rowhani saying a restart was more likely next week.

According to Tehran, this is to give UN inspectors time to set up their equipment so they can monitor the breaking of seals at Isfahan. Crucially, though, it will also allow Britain, France and Germany to deliver proposals to Iran that would help it develop a civil programme in return for abandoning all enrichment activity.

Senior European diplomats said the three foreign ministers had received letters from Tehran confirming it had notified the International Atomic Energy Agency of its intention to break the seals.We will present the proposals this weekend, but we are preparing for a possible IAEA board meeting next week,” said one EU diplomat.

It is expected that, if Tehran defies the EU-3 and breaks the seals, it will be asked by the IAEA to desist. If it then pressed ahead with enrichment activity, the IAEA board would meet again and a decision could be taken to make a report to the UN Security Council.

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, a conservative fundamentalist who won last month’s Iranian presidential election, took office on Wednesday. With no direct reference to the nuclear talks, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad indicated no retreat from Iran’s plans to build nuclear plants.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader, who has the final say in state affairs, said: All powers, and especially the Great Satan America, should know that the Iranian people would not accept to be blackmailed by any powers.”