Iran: IAEA Meeting As Diplomatic Efforts Continue
PRAGUE, June 12, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The
diplomatic focus of the Iran nuclear crisis shifts to Vienna today as the UN's
nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), meets to
discuss the crisis.
The governing board-level
meeting of the IAEA is not expected to directly address Iran's nuclear
activities until sometime in the middle of this week.
But even before the meeting began in Vienna today, some of
the players in the crisis sought to shape the outcome of the
Iran's envoy to the UN's nuclear watchdog, Ali Asqar
Soltanieh, urged the board of governors to exercise restraint. He said the board
should refrain from making any "politically motivated statements that could
spoil the environment" for a diplomatic solution.
But just what form a
diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis might take is still far from clear.
The prospects center on an incentives offer presented to Tehran on June
The offer, agreed upon by the five permanent
members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, promises Iran technical help
with its nuclear energy program and trade benefits if Tehran suspends uranium
So far, Iranian officials have said they are ready to
negotiate but have yet to react formally to the offer.
contains some positive points, such as the nuclear reactor for Iran," Supreme
National Security Council chief and top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said
about the incentives offer on June 11 in Cairo.
"Also, coordination with
Iran and taking advantage of Iran's expertise on stability in the region and
coordination with Iran on regional security. We are willing to deal with this to
reach stability and security in the region," Larijani added.
But Larijani tempered this noting that there are also
points to which Iran objects. "There are also a few points that are unclear, and
which we are waiting for clarification on -- such as uranium enrichment in Iran,
which was not really addressed in a clear way," he said.
diplomatic negotiations are likely to center on whether and how Iran might
suspend uranium enrichment temporarily if it can retain the right to have a
domestic uranium-enrichment program in the future.
Reuters today quoted
Western diplomats as saying privately that the incentives offer could allow Iran
to later engage in uranium enrichment if it meets tough preconditions. Those
would include an immediate, open-ended halt to enrichment work, probably lasting
years, and full cooperation with IAEA inspectors.
But it is far from
certain whether Tehran would accede to such terms. Larijani on June 11 rejected
any preconditions. And on June 10, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki
said his government would issue a counteroffer to the incentives
Iran has repeatedly said it has the right to uranium enrichment
under international nuclear treaties and will use the technology to domestically
produce fuel for its planned nuclear reactors.
However, at high levels
of enrichment, the technology can equally be used to create material for nuclear
bombs. Western states accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons under the cover of
a peaceful energy program.
A big question now
is how long the UN powers will give Iran to negotiate over the incentives offer
before trying to apply new pressure through the Security Council.
given the Iranians a limited period of time, you know -- weeks, not months -- to
digest a proposal to move forward, and if they choose not to verifiably suspend
their [nuclear] program, then there will be action taken in the UN Security
Council," U.S. President George W. Bush said on June 9.
The United States
has said it will join talks with Iran if Tehran first suspends uranium
Meanwhile, a report by IAEA weapons inspectors to the
Vienna-based watchdog on June 8 said that Iran is continuing work on nuclear
The report, prepared in the run-up to this week's board of
governors meeting, also said that nuclear inspectors have made little progress
on clearing up other worrying aspects of Tehran's past nuclear
Copyright (c) 2006 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
... Payvand News - 6/12/06 ... --