Friday, August 25, 2006

Iran wants guarantees against sanctions...

Iran wants guarantees that it won’t face UN sanctions before it is prepared to restart negotiations over its nuclear programme, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday. He called the condition unacceptable.

“I have always said that we must begin negotiations without preconditions. ... That is why Iran must understand we cannot come to the negotiating table when every day new centrifuges are being constructed,” Steinmeier told reporters. READ MORE

The foreign minister said Iran, in its response to an international package of incentives, was willing to hold new talks provided the five permanent UNSC members and Germany pledge to hold off on UN sanctions.

An Iranian opposition group also said on Friday that Iran has assembled and is testing 15 so called P2 centrifuges which can speed up uranium enrichment, the process which makes nuclear fuel or atom bomb material.

The national council of resistance of Iran said it had also located what it called a secret production site for the equipment near Tehran. The claim, made at a press conference in Paris, came as Iran seemed headed for a showdown at the UN Security Council next week over its nuclear programme and facing the threat of sanctions for failing to freeze enrichment.

Having P2 centrifuges—more sophisticated than P1 versions—would give Iran an increased capability to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel or atom bomb material. Europe and the US fear Tehran is using a drive for energy as a cover for developing atomic weapons. “At least 15 P2 centrifuges have been assembled so far and are being tested,” said NCRI’s Mohammad Mohadessin.