Reuters: Washington is “hallucinating” if it thinks Iran will
scrap its nuclear fuel production plans in return for economic incentives, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying on Sunday. The United States offered the encouragements in a
bid to boost the European Union which is negotiating with Tehran to try to persuade it to give up sensitive nuclear activities.
TEHRAN – Washington is “hallucinating” if it thinks Iran will scrap its nuclear fuel production plans in return for economic incentives, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying on Sunday.
The United States offered the encouragements in a bid to boost the European Union which is negotiating with Tehran to try to persuade it to give up sensitive nuclear activities.
“U.S. officials are either unaware of the substance of the talks or (they are) hallucinating,” Sirus Naseri, a senior member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team with the European Union, told the official IRNA news agency.
Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity and will never use it to make bombs, as the United States fears.
Washington offered on Friday to allow Iran to begin talks on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and consider letting it buy civilian airline parts if it ceased all activities that could produce fuel for nuclear power plants or atomic weapons.
But Iran dismissed the incentives as insignificant.
The U.S. offer, a tactical shift by Washington, was part of a coordinated strategy with the EU which warned Iran on Friday it would be referred to the U.N. Security Council if it resumed sensitive nuclear fuel work like uranium enrichment.
Naseri said the EU, which has persuaded Iran to suspend potentially weapons-related activities like uranium enrichment while the two sides try to reach a solution, was close to accepting Iran’s position that it would never give up its right to enrich uranium.
Instead, Tehran has offered to provide “objective guarantees” that it will not divert nuclear fuel to military uses.
“It seems the Europeans are ready to adopt a logical position,” Naseri said.
Iran has refused to publicly disclose its guarantees but diplomats and analysts say it is offering to allow intrusive inspections that ensure it only enriches uranium to a low grade which would be unsuitable for weapons.
It may also be prepared to restrict its enrichment activities to a pilot project, too small to make weapons production practical, diplomats and analysts say.
Such a solution would allow Iran to save face while meeting most of the West’s concerns.
So far EU officials have said the only acceptable objective guarantee would be for Iran to mothball its enrichment plans and rely on imported nuclear reactor fuel.
The two sides are due to hold a crucial meeting in Paris on March 23 to review their talks so far.