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Iran seeks clear-cut assurance from Europeans on nuclear proposal

Tehran, Oct 24, IRNA -- Iran described Sunday a European proposal to halt its uranium enrichment activities as 'preliminary' and 'unbalanced', saying the Europeans are first required to assure Tehran of fulfilling what they promise.

The Islamic Republic has already chided the Europeans for failing to honor their 'political and moral commitment' they took during a meeting in Tehran last year.

"The Europeans should give us the assurance that if we reached an agreement, they could implement it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said at a weekly news briefing here.

The two sides met in Vienna Thursday for their first round of talks amid reports that the trio of France, Britain and Germany would seek to provide Iran with limited nuclear technology if Tehran suspended all its uranium enrichment activities.

Asefi said the trio European heavyweights' proposal was 'preliminary' and 'not final', stressing that it must be juxtaposed with 'more positive tones and its negative points must be eliminated or reduced'.

"The legitimate rights of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be definitely respected and their legitimacy recognized.

"The Europeans must assure us about what they say and give us assurance that they remain committed to what they say and fulfill their promises," he added.

Asefi said the next round of talks between the two sides will be held on Wednesday, in which Iran will present its own proposals, while continuing to consider the Europeans' proposals.

"We must reach a median solution which removes the Europeans' concerns -- if there is any -- and recognize our rights in the framework of the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)," he said.

Asefi, however, rejected the European Union demand that Tehran suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment for good.

"The question is not to permanently suspend uranium enrichment and the Europeans' proposal itself points to unlimited suspension until an agreement is reached," he said.

The official stressed that the EU has never demanded a 'permanent' and 'unlimited' suspension of uranium enrichment from Iran.

"This is not acceptable by the Islamic Republic since Iran's suspension of enrichment has been voluntary and temporary to promote confidence building," he added.

In a decision to prove its good faith, Tehran has voluntarily suspended uranium enrichment and manufacture of centrifuge components.

Moreover, the Islamic Republic has signed an additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, allowing snap inspections of its nuclear activities.

Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at power generation, rejecting US accusations that the program is a cover to build an atomic bomb.

The country, however, insists that it wants to master nuclear fuel cycle, which is permitted under the NPT and to which the Islamic Republic is a signatory.

Certain circles inside Iran, including several MPs, have urged the country to resume uranium enrichment and shut the door to snap inspections of the country's nuclear facilities as well as quit the NPT.

Parliament refused in September to ratify the Additional Protocol to the NPT for unfettered inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities after the International Atomic Energy Agency passed a tough resolution against Iran.

"The continued defiance of principles by the IAEA's Board of Governors leaves no room for us to ratify the Additional Protocol, and will lead us to question what is the point for the nation to leave its doors open to IAEA inspectors," a statement, read out in parliament, said.

The rebuttal came as the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution, demanding Iran freeze all activities related to uranium enrichment.

Britain, France and Germany drafted the resolution, setting a November 25 deadline for a full review of Iran's nuclear program and calling on Tehran to 'immediately' suspend all uranium enrichment activities.

Iran has dismissed the resolution, saying it does not accept any obligation in this regard.

On Sunday, an MP announced that her peers at the parliament were planning their own 'trigger mechanism', setting a two-week deadline for the Europeans to settle Iran's nuclear case or have the country quit the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"So far, 100 deputies have endorsed this plan which will be presented today," the MP from northeastern Zanjan Raf'at Bayat said.

The measure is an answer to US' proposal for the world nuclear watchdog to include the 'trigger' clause in its resolutions so that to warn that any Iranian failure in bringing its nuclear program to light will make a case for making all necessary options, including automatic referral of the country to the UN Security Council.

The MP came down heavily on several officials of the country, including Iran's pointman on nuclear issues Hassan Rowhani, for what she described their 'reactionary' response to the Europeans.

"In this issue, the Europeans have proceeded on every front, while we have been on the retreat and instead of challenging the imperialists, they have challenged us," she said.

Bayat urged the parliament to 'control every move of the agency's (inspectors)' and demanded that all arrival and departure of IAEA inspectors take place with parliament's approval.

Asefi, reacting to the MP's statements, was non-committal, saying 'the MPs are free in their views and devising laws'.

"Naturally, when a law passes all the proceedings and receives the approval of the related authorities, the Iranian government is obliged to implement it," he said.

But the Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed that 'this issue is at the preliminary stage and we hope our dialogue with the Europeans proceed in a way that we are not caught up in special complexities'.

... Payvand News - 10/25/04 ... --

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