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Europeans offer Iran 'detailed' nuclear proposal

Vienna, May 25, IRNA-The Europeans proposed Wednesday to offer Iran a detailed plan for nuclear cooperation in the next two months, which prompted the top Iranian negotiator to state that a deal is not out of reach now.

But Hassan Rowhani stressed that the Europeans' proposal, which asks Iran to maintain its suspension of the uranium reprocessing activities in the central city of Isfahan, has to be examined in Tehran.

"We believe that we could come to an agreement in a reasonably short time," Rowhani told reporters after the closed-door meeting in Geneva with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain.

"In this round of negotiations, the Europeans proposed that they offer within the two months a comprehensive plan for cooperation with Iran in various aspects, including on technical and nuclear affairs.

"It was announced to the Europeans that this proposal has to be examined in Tehran and then an answer would be given on whether we accept it or not," Rowhani added.

The official said the Europeans had promised to knit into their proposal all the details relating to the two sides' Paris agreement in Nevermore, including 'political, security, economic, technical and nuclear issues'.

Iran had entered the negotiations with a cautionary mood, describing them as 'extremely complicated' and giving them a 50-50 chance.

In October 2003, the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany travelled to Iran and signed the 'Tehran agreement', aimed at convincing US and Europe of the peaceful nature of the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme.

The US accuses Iran of having a secret nuclear weapons program and wants to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

China and Russia are among countries that have expressed opposition to taking Iran to the UN Security Council for alleged violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In December 2004, Iran took another step to convince the world about the civilian nature of its nuclear programme by signing the additional NPT protocol following an agreement with the 'EU-3' in Paris in November.

The Paris accord offered Iran closer economic and trade relations and nuclear technology with the 25-member European bloc in return for full cooperation with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The UN nuclear watchdog said it has found no evidence that Iran was producing nuclear weapons.

Iran also agreed to the voluntarily suspension of its uranium enrichment program to give the EU's diplomatic initiative a chance to succeed.

But the EU, pressured by the US, is calling on Iran to permanently halt its enrichment programme. Tehran rejects the European demand arguing that under the IAEA charter it has inalienable rights to civilian nuclear technology.

Iranian officials accused the Europeans of dilly-dally tactics and of not fulfilling the Paris accord commitments.

Last April, Iran announced it would restart uranium conversion at the Isfahan plant, which turns raw 'yellow cake' into gas to be used as feedstock in enrichment.

In early May, EU-3 and Solana dispatched a letter to Rowhani inviting him for emergency talks to defuse the looming crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

Analysts opine that both sides have invested a lot in the diplomatic initiative and are not willing to see talks simply breakdown.

For the EU, Iran has become a test case for its policy of dialogue and engagement in contrast to US military interventions and sanctions.

A failure with Iran would mean a serious setback for EU aspirations to emerge as an influential global player.

EU officials have been underlining the big economic potential of Iran: its vital geo-strategic position and its important role in solving regional and international problems, as well as its contribution to the fight against international drug trafficking.

Better relations with Iran would guarantee a constant and stable supply of energy for the EU economy.

For its part, Iran seeks closer economic and political ties with the EU, its largest trading partner, and wants more European investments in the Islamic Republic.

Tehran is trying to win EU support for its efforts to join the WTO, a move which is being blocked by the United States.

The turning point in EU-Iran ties was set by the visit of Kamal Kharrazi to Brussels in September 2001, the first by an Iranian foreign minister.

Since then, top EU - including foreign policy chief Javier Solana - and Iranian officials, members of parliament have been exchanging regular visits.

On June 17, 2002 the EU agreed to begin negotiations on a cooperation and trade agreement (TCA) with Iran to put bilateral ties on a contractual basis.

TCA negotiations were launched in December 2002 and after a pause of nearly a year due to the nuclear stand-off they were resumed in December 2004.

Iran and the EU are also holding a regular political and human rights dialogue with the participation of civil societies from both sides.

The political dialogue covers a wide range of issues such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons, immigration and the Palestine question.

The European side announced that it would include all requirements of the Paris agreement relating to political, security, economic, technical and nuclear issues in its detailed pro, according to the top official.

... Payvand News - 5/27/05 ... --

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