Iran News ...


3/13/06

Iran: Russian Offer "Off" The Agenda

As it had warned, Iran shelves further discussion about a Russian proposal to end the diplomatic crisis after Iran's nuclear program is put on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

PRAGUE, 12 March 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Tehran said today that a Russian proposal to move Iran's enrichment program to Russia is "off" Iran's agenda and that it will not consider any proposal that does not guarantee "Iran's right to nuclear research."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi told reporters in Tehran "conditions have changed now; the Russian proposal is not on the agenda."

Iran's statement comes only a few days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported Iran to the UN Security Council.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, had already warned that if the country's nuclear dossier was sent to the UN Security Council, the Russian proposal would become the "first victim."

Assefi said Iran will now wait and see how discussions unfold among the five permanent members of the council, Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States.

He insisted that Tehran will not comply with any Security Council resolution ordering it to suspend uranium enrichment.

Iranian officials have repeatedly said that the country will never give up its 'legitimate' right to enriching uranium.

They have, however, said that Iran has resumed only a small-scale enrichment program for research purposes.

Asked if Iran will resume large-scale uranium enrichment in response to Iran's referral to the Security Council, Assefi said Iran is going to wait for "two, three" days before making a decision.

'Basic Agreement' Followed By No Agreement

The Russian proposal was considered by many as the only possible way out of the crisis created by the international community's uncertainty about the nature of Iran's nuclear program.

The proposal aimed at preventing Iran from gaining direct access to sensitive uranium-enrichment technology that can be used for military as well as civilian purposes.

Tehran and Moscow had reportedly reached a "basic agreement" on the proposal but Iran had said further talks are needed.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in Moscow today that Russia is "studying" Tehran's rejection of Moscow's proposal.

Kamynin reiterated Moscow's call for a "peaceful, diplomatic resolution" to Iran's nuclear problem.

On March 10, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had also called for a diplomatic solution to the standoff, saying "the best solution is a negotiated one. I hope the parties will get back to the table and Iran will take the necessary steps to cooperate with the atomic agency. That will give the confidence to the international community that indeed its ambition is the peaceful use of nuclear energy."

Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes, but the United States accuses Iran of secretly producing nuclear weapons.

The Security Council is expected to discuss the Iranian dossier as early as this week.

The Council has the power to impose political and economic sanctions on Iran but analysts say the UN body may -- as a first step -- issue a statement calling on Iran to suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment.

Meanwhile Iran's Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said Iran will not use oil as a political tool in the dispute over its nuclear ambitions. Mottaki said there is still an opportunity to continue talks about Iran's nuclear program.


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

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