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11/25/04

Khatami: EU's draft resolution on Iran 'not good'

Tehran, Nov 25, IRNA -- Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Thursday that a draft resolution prepared by the European trio on Tehran's nuclear activities is far from good.

The draft resolution, due to be submitted to a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog's Board of Governors which opened in Vienna Thursday, follows Tehran's suspension Monday of the activities related to uranium enrichment.

"This resolution is not a good resolution and intense negotiations are currently underway between the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) members and the Europeans to change the draft," Khatami said here in a joint news conference with visiting Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

However, the Europeans stuck to their guns, announcing Thursday morning that they would not make imminent changes in the draft resolution.

Their announcement was made one hour before the start of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors' meeting, which has Tehran's nuclear activities also on its agenda.

An IAEA spokesman, Peter Rickwood, said Iran's nuclear issues will be discussed Friday.

Talking to IRNA, Rickwood said at Thursday's session, the board would examine South Korea's nuclear issues.

Representatives of Britain, France and Germany said they would wait until the IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei submits his report to the board and then they would decide on the issue.

In his inaugural statement to the board, ElBaradei stressed that Tehran had frozen most of its uranium enrichment program.

"Iran has facilitated, in a timely manner, the agency's access... to nuclear material and facilities, as well as other locations in the country, and has permitted the agency to take environmental samples as requested," he said.

"I'm going to report that we have completed our work with regard to verification of the suspension with one exception, the request by Iran to exempt 20 centrifuges for (research and development) without using nuclear material," he added.

ElBaradei said he was discussing the issue with Iranian officials, expressing hope that it would be resolved 'within 24 hours'.

The EU trio presented their proposed draft resolution on Iran's nuclear activities to the Board of Governors members on Monday, but faced protests from the NAM troika, which accounts for one third of the 35-member board, as well as Iran regarding some paragraphs.

President Khatami said, "We are opposed to double standards and using force to impose certain policies on other countries.

"The non-aligned states, like Iran, insist on the natural and legitimate right of all IAEA members to have access to the peaceful nuclear technology," he added.

Consultations are continuing in a bid to iron out the differences.

Iran has raised objections to the wording of the draft resolution on the way the suspension and monitoring are described.

Iran and its NAM allies say a clause in the draft calling on Iran to give 'unrestricted access' to the IAEA is illegal and should be explicitly limited to nuclear sites declared under the IAEA's Additional Protocol permitting short-notice inspections.

The draft also says it is 'essential' that Iran keep all parts of its enrichment program suspended, something which Tehran interprets as seeking to oblige the country to unlimited suspension.

Iranian officials stress that the suspension would remain in place only long enough to provide assurances that Tehran was not engaged in non-civilian activities.

Uranium enrichment is allowed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a signatory, and the country wants it as part of its efforts to master a nuclear fuel cycle.

But as a confidence-building measure, Iran agreed in its meeting with the three EU states in Paris recently to voluntarily suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment.

Earlier this week, Iran said it would start suspending uranium enrichment as of Monday, making good on its word which it gave at a recent agreement with the Europeans.

Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, however, stressed that it was Tehran's prerogative to specify 'the extent and duration of the suspension'.

"This suspension depends on the commitment of the opposite party and we will test this at the next board of governors' meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," he told reporters at his weekly news briefing.

"We have voluntarily accepted suspension, since we have no legal obligation in this regard, having done this to bolster overall confidence at the regional and international level.

"This process of confidence-building is in our national interests, besides being a factor to fend off war-mongering ideology of certain power," he added.

The United States is trying to persuade the world over its allegations that Tehran's nuclear program is a front to build atomic weapons, and pave the way for referral of Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

But, the EU trio of Germany, France and Britain pursue a different line, having offered Iran a package of economic incentives in return for suspending uranium enrichment.

The European trio have reached a 'preliminary' deal with Iran, under which Tehran would halt an enrichment program in exchange for political and economic incentives.

The EU incentives reportedly include a guaranteed supply of reactor fuel, assistance to construction of a light-water power reactor and a resumption of stalled trade talks.

Ramezanzadeh turned the tables on the Europeans, saying, "We have always observed our commitments and now we expect that the opposite party also remains committed to its obligations."

... Payvand News - 11/25/04 ... --



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