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4/22/05

Iran, EU-3 end nuclear negotiations in Geneva

Vienna, April 21, IRNA-Iran and the EU-3 ended Thursday the latest round of nuclear negotiations held in Geneva with one official saying that the two sides were satisfied with the results the negotiations.

"The two sides are satisfied with the trend and outcome of the negotiations," a source close to the talks told IRNA.

The negotiations centered around demands Iran provide the world with 'objective guarantees' that its nuclear program is not steered toward military intentions, while the Europeans guarantee Tehran's access to nuclear technology.

Technical issues relating to the 'principles and framework' of an Iranian proposal aiming a breakthrough in the standoff were also to be discussed in the negotiations which began Tuesday at a working group level.

There is no word yet on how the Europeans have received the proposal.

The outcome of the negotiations is to be examined at an steering committee, comprising foreign ministry diplomats from the two sides, in London on April 29.

The head of Iran's negotiating team, Sirous Nasseri, had sounded upbeat ahead of the talks, saying they 'are on the right track, leading to a wise, logical and balanced solution satisfactory to both sides'.

On Wednesday, Iran announced that it would wait for 'a couple of more months and not years' to settle differences in its nuclear talks with the Europeans, or ditch the negotiations.

"If the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the Europeans do not lead to a resolution in the next couple of months, we will break them off," Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rowhani, said.

"The negotiations must be restricted to the span of the month; there is no question of years. If they reach a resolution in the next couple of months, we will continue them; otherwise, we will halt them," he told reporters after attending a closed-door parliament session.

The senior official stressed that Tehran would judge the Europeans according to their 'sincerity' toward the 'basis of the negotiations' which he said was 'the mechanism of uranium enrichment without causing any concerns'.

"Our arrangements with the Europeans since March 23 have been such that only issues tabled by Iran are discussed," Rowhani said, adding, "There is no question of a halt to the enrichment and the basis (of the talks) is how Iran's ideas are implemented and how enrichment is carried out without causing concerns.

"The basis of the negotiations must be moving forward and that we take a step forward in each round of the negotiations and we are assured that we reach a resolution in the near future.

"But whenever we feel the negotiations are useless and the Europeans want to waste time ... we will halt them then and there and there is no timetable for this," Rowhani said.

The official said Iran had proposed ideas in order to move out of the stalemate and accelerate the negotiations.

"The criteria in the negotiations must be how to actualize tangible guarantees so that they reach a firm conclusion," Rowhani said.

The key sticking point is uranium enrichment which Tehran has suspended as a confidence-building gesture since last November, but the country insists that it cannot be cajoled to sustain the suspension for good.

The Europeans have been pressing the Islamic Republic on this in return for a package of incentives. Iran stresses that economic incentives may help improve foreign relations but won't permanently stop Tehran from pursuing a peaceful nuclear program.

According to President Mohammad Khatami, the two sides have taken steps forward, citing the Europeans' 'very open' reaction to Iran's proposal, particularly that of France.

"I hope that during the April 29 meeting, thanks to French support, but equally due to the welcome given to the overall plan, we will be able to make even more substantial progress," Khatami said in Paris after meeting with French President Jacques Chirac recently.

Khatami says the two sides are closer to a settlement over Tehran's right to develop nuclear power.

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, expressed optimism recently that he would eventually be able to tell Tehran that it has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

EU diplomats were then quoted as saying that Chirac has been pushing the EU to drop its refusal to consider letting Iran enrich uranium.

Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at power generation in the face of US accusations that the program may be a cover to build atomic weapons, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

In a dramatic U-turn last month, the United States offered to allow Iran to start talks on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and consider letting it buy civilian airliner parts as part of incentives to Tehran over its nuclear cooperation.

Member of Iranian team to nuclear talks with EU, Sirus Nasseri, said Washington seems lately to be taking a more down-to-earth approach towards Iran's nuclear program, closer to that of the Europeans.

He however played down US engagement in the marathon talks between Tehran and the EU trio of Britain, Germany and France.

"I personally do not see any need for the presence of the Americans at the negotiations and even don't believe it could be helpful," Nasseri said.

The official said the United States seems to have started abandoning its threats against Iran, realizing the country's weight in the Middle East.

"We think the Americans are gradually becoming aware of the realities in the political scene of the region, including the extent and amount of Iran's influence in regional developments, particularly in Afghanistan, Iran and Lebanon.

"The Americans must have come to their sense and realized that there is no possibility of a confrontation with Iran and if they initiate a confrontation, the risks of vulnerability will be high." Nasseri said, "When they unleashed their threats two years ago, the Americans were seeing themselves at the apogee of their power, cherishing sweet dreams and hoping to change the regional situation according to their will.

"But today, the Americans have woken up to their ignorance and at least some sections of the ruling establishment, including its extremists elements, began to adapt to the realities," Nasseri said.

... Payvand News - 4/22/05 ... --



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