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11/27/04

Iran mulling answer to new European resolution: diplomat

Vienna, Nov 27, IRNA -- Iran will decide 'within today and tomorrow' about a revised draft resolution, which the Europeans want to submit to the world nuclear watchdog concerning Tehran's uranium enrichment activities, a senior Iranian diplomat told IRNA in Vienna on Saturday.

"Within today and tomorrow, the establishment will decide about the final text between Iran and the Europeans," the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.

In the latest EU draft, a clause that Iran felt was an indirect trigger was removed, while a demand that Iran provide 'unrestricted access' to the IAEA was changed to cover only access to sites declared to the IAEA under its Additional Protocol on short-notice inspections, according to news reports.

But, it still calls on Iran to sustain the suspension of enrichment and plutonium reprocessing activities, Reuters said.

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Tehran still finds positions which are contrary to the November 7 Paris agreement between Iran and the European trio of Germany, Britain and France and thus "are not acceptable to us".

"The draft resolution does not help with confidence building and the Europeans had better chose a track which would create better confidence," he said.

Intensive talks between the Iranian delegates and their European counterparts continued in Vienna Saturday to reach an eleventh hour deal, with the former trying that Tehran's minimum interests are incorporated into the resolution before it is submitted to the IAEA board of governors.

Talks between the two sides began Thursday, with the deal expected to be concluded Friday, but it did not come through apparently after Iran requested that 20 of its centrifuges be exempted from its promised suspension of uranium enrichment.

Kharrazi stressed that "Iran's demand for continued operation of 20 centrifuges for carrying out research activities does not run counter to the country's past obligations."

"Iran demands that operation of 20 centrifuges continue under the (International Atomic Energy) Agency's supervision and is restricted merely to research activities," he added.

The IAEA board of governors is expected to review Iran's case on Monday to decide the nature of Iran's nuclear program, which the country insists is aimed at power generation.

The latest EU resolution is a revised version of two previous ones, which Iran's President Mohammad Khatami had described as 'not good'.

Kharrazi said, "Many modifications have been made in the draft resolution proposed by the Europeans, but there are still paragraphs which are not acceptable to the Islamic Republic."

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

President Khatami said Thursday, "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."

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

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

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

Iranian officials stressed 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 convince the world of 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 - 11/27/04 ... --



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