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Istanbul talks may be West's last chance, Tehran says

TEHRAN, Jan. 12 (Mehr News Agency) - Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh has advised the West to grasp the "historic opportunity" of the upcoming talks with Iran, implying that the talks could be the major powers' last chance.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are scheduled to hold talks in Istanbul on January 21 and 22.

"By installing fuel rods produced by Iran in the core of the Tehran research reactor, probably the Majlis (the Iranian parliament) will not allow the government once again to negotiate or send its uranium to Turkey or other countries," Soltanieh told reporters on Wednesday.

"If it happens, Iran will continue to produce (nuclear fuel)," he said.

Based on the Tehran Declaration signed between Iran, Turkey, and Brazil on May 17 Iran was to ship 1200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey to be exchanged for 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel rods to power the Tehran research reactor, which produces radioisotopes for cancer treatment.

Soltanieh went to say that the planned meeting in Istanbul will be a "historic opportunity" for the Western governments to come back to the negotiating table. "The time is not passing in their favor and they should seize this opportunity."

He also commented on Iran's defense policy, saying nuclear weapons have no place in the country's defense doctrine and Iran is strongly opposed to the proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction.

"Any move aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons is a strategic mistake and will undermine the national security and interests," he noted.

The senior diplomat emphasized again that uranium enrichment for peaceful applications under the supervision of the IAEA is Iran's inalienable right and Iranian officials will never negotiate or compromise on these rights.

Earlier, Acting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had said that Iran would be able to produce its own fuel material for the Tehran reactor later this year, making any swap deal "lose its meaning."

NAM troika, Group of 77, Arab League to tour Iran nuclear sites
Source: ISNA

Presidents and representatives of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) troika, Group of 77, the Arab League as well as Venezuelan and Syrian ambassadors to the IAEA are to arrive in Tehran on Saturday to visit Natanz nuclear site and Arak heavy water reactor, said Iranian ambassador to agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

Iran's Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility south of Tehran

Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes

NAM troika includes Iran, Egypt and Cuba.

Soltanieh referred to NAM's Wednesday meeting which supported Iran's invitation to its nuclear sites and said, "Egyptian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who takes charge of NAM troika, Chairman of Group of 77 (Algerian ambassador to the IAEA), the Arab League ambassador to Vienna-based international organizations and Venezuelan and Syrian ambassadors to the IAEA have declared their readiness to tour the nuclear sites."

Also concerning responses from other invited internationals organizations, he said, "we are waiting for them to declare their replies."

"The two-day visit starts on Saturday," he told ISNA.

"Since Iran has managed to produce material required for Tehran research reactor fuel as well as fuel rods, there is no argument for fuel swap talks if the produced fuel is placed into the core of reactor," he noted.

Soltanieh then added, "Group of Vienna (the US, France, Russia and the IAEA) should seize the chance and return to the table of talks."

Iran has already declared that its invitation goes in line with transparent nuclear policy and goodwill.

Russia Says Iran Nuclear Inspections Needed Despite Tour Offer
Source: VOA

Russia says an offer to visit Iran's nuclear sites "deserves attention" but does not replace the need for regular inspections.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday the visits proposed by Tehran "must not be viewed as a substitute" for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He also said there is still a need for Iran to hold talks with Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. Those talks are scheduled for Istanbul on January 21-22.

Iran had invited foreign diplomats to visit its atomic sites a week before the Istanbul meeting.

China on Thursday said it is unlikely to accept the offer, saying it would be difficult for the country's nuclear envoy to visit Iran.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful means, but the country has been facing international sanctions amid fears Tehran is developing nuclear weapons.

The European Union has already declined the tour, which Iran said would include the Natanz uranium enrichment plant and the Arak plutonium-producing heavy water complex.

Iran says it is willing only to discuss a nuclear materials swap at the Istanbul meeting.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton will visit Turkey this week in preparation for the talks.

China Unlikely To Accept Iran Nuclear Invite; Russia Undecided
Source: RFE/RL

China says it is unlikely to accept Iran's recent offer to tour its nuclear facilities.

Iran has invited Russia, China, and Hungary, which currently holds the European Union presidency, to tour the sites this month. Other major powers involved in talks on Iran's controversial nuclear program -- the United States, Britain, France, and Germany -- were not invited.

The EU has already indicated it will not go.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said any gesture that indicated greater openness from Iran should be welcomed, but cautioned that such a visit could never replace regular inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or talks with the major powers.

Iran has restricted IAEA inspections, while the next round of talks between Iran and the six major powers is set for January 21-22 in Istanbul.

compiled from agency reports

... Payvand News - 01/13/11 ... --

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