AFP: Iran said Tuesday it had little hope of reaching an agreement in emergency nuclear talks with Britain, France and Germany, saying the Europeans were hostage to the hardline US position. “There is not a very big chance for an agreement,” nuclear negotiator Cyrus Nasseri told AFP.
TEHRAN – Iran said Tuesday it had little hope of reaching an agreement in emergency nuclear talks with Britain, France and Germany, saying the Europeans were hostage to the hardline US position.
“There is not a very big chance for an agreement,” nuclear negotiator Cyrus Nasseri told AFP.
“The Europeans are not capable of acting independently from the extremists in the American administration. We don’t have a problem with the Europeans themselves, but when it comes to making a decision they want to coordinate with the Americans,” he added.
The three European powers called a crisis meeting after Tehran announced it would resume uranium conversion work, a move that would have violated a November 2004 accord on freezing nuclear fuel work and opening long-term talks.
Iran was also warned that breaking the deal would spark its referral to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
Iran has agreed to hold off from resuming uranium conversion — a precursor to the ultra-sensitive enrichment process — pending the emergency talks with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
Talks between the two sides are scheduled to be held in a European capital on May 23, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said Monday.
The EU has offered Iran a package of incentives in return for “objective guarantees” it will not develop weapons. This would involve Iran dismantling its nuclear fuel facilities in exchange for increased trade and diplomatic and security benefits.
But Iran insists its bid to master the full nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment, is merely aimed at generating electricity and a “right” for any country that has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Nasseri repeated that Iran’s decision to resume fuel work was “definitive”, but added that “if we reach an agreement on the plan proposed by Iran, it is possible we delay the timing of this resumption”.
The Iranian proposal involves a phased resumption of enrichment activities while at the same time demanding EU trade and technology incentives, something totally at odds with the US and European position.
“It is extremely difficult, because the two sides have their own positions and showing flexibility is hard for both sides,” said another top negotiator, Iran’s national security official Hossein Moussavian.
“The Europeans have to satisfy others and are not alone in dealing with the issue. They have to consult with the permanent members of the Security Council, also the United States, which is hindering the process,” he told state television.
“The Europeans … cannot unilaterally reach an agreement with Iran. We understand that their job is more difficult.”
The United States is still pushing for Iran to be referred to the Security Council over what it sees as a “cynical” strategy by Iran to exploit the NPT and develop the technology to make nuclear weapons.
“One of the options is definitely to go to the Security Council,” US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday. “That’s something that, I’ll remind you, we’ve supported all along and we haven’t changed our position.”
“We think it’s time for the Iranians to demonstrate to the world that they’re not going to develop nuclear weapons and to do so with objective guarantees, as the Europeans say,” he said.