AFP: Iran’s decision to resume some of its sensitive nuclear work is “irreversible” despite the danger of being referred to the UN Security Council, a senior official told AFP on Thursday. His comment followed the European Union ratcheting up pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme — ahead of crisis talks between the two sides slated for next week — with an EU warning that it could yet haul the Islamic state before the UN Security Council. AFP
by Siavosh Ghazi
TEHRAN – Iran’s decision to resume some of its sensitive nuclear work is “irreversible” despite the danger of being referred to the UN Security Council, a senior official told AFP on Thursday.
His comment followed the European Union ratcheting up pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme — ahead of crisis talks between the two sides slated for next week — with an EU warning that it could yet haul the Islamic state before the UN Security Council.
On Thursday, nuclear negotiator Hossein Moussavian spelled out Tehran’s decision and also cautioned that it was “not certain” that the crisis talks will take place next week with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.
The holding of the talks, he said, were subject to experts from both sides reaching a “mutually acceptable” basis of an agreement over the coming days.
Experts from both sides are due to have formal talks on Monday, while the three European ministers plus EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana are scheduled to meet Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani on Tuesday.
Moussavian said that if both sides failed to agree, uranium conversion work at a plant near the central city of Isfahan could restart before Iran’s June 17 presidential election.
Uranium conversion involves transforming raw uranium into UF6 gas, which in turn can then be fed into cascades of centrifuges that carry out enrichment — a process which can be diverted to make nuclear weapons.
Iran insists its bid to master the full nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment, is merely aimed at generating electricity and is a “right” for any country that has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“The decision on resuming activities at Isfahan is irreversible,” Moussavian said.
“For the meeting to take place, the experts must arrive at the basis of a mutually acceptable accord so there is a chance of finding a solution. This is not yet the case,” he added.
He said that “if there is no accord, it is possible that Iran resumes its activities at Isfahan before the presidential elections.”
The official also said that if there was an accord, Iran “could maintain the suspension of our enrichment activites at Natanz for several months.”
The so-called EU-3 called a crisis meeting with Iran after Tehran announced it would resume uranium conversion work, a move that would violate the November accord on freezing nuclear fuel work and opening long-term talks.
Iran has agreed to hold off the resumption pending the emergency talks called by British Foriegn Secretary Jack Straw, France’s Michel Barnier and Germany’s Joschka Fischer.
The three warned in a letter to Rowhani last week that a resumption of conversion work “would bring the negotiating process to an end” and that “the consequences beyond could only be negative for Iran”.
This would include the Europeans siding with the United States and supporting shifting the dossier from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, to the UN Security Council.
The EU has offered Iran a package of incentives in return for “objective guarantees” it will not develop weapons — hoping to strike a deal similar to that which the United States and Britain reached with Libya.
Such a deal would involve Iran dismantling its nuclear fuel facilities in exchange for increased trade and diplomatic and security benefits.
But Moussavian said the EU had yet to make any serious proposals, describing the prospect of having access to civilian airplane spare parts — shopping for which is currently blocked by US sanctions — as a “joke”.
“In the last months of the negs the euros have not given us anything acceptable,” he complained.
He said progress on incentives such as providing Iran with 10 nuclear power stations would “constitute the basis of serious negotiations”.
Tensions have mounted after the EU-3 last rejected an Iranian proposal to commence a phased resumption of enrichment activities while at the same time demanding EU incentives.
Iran has accused the Europeans of deliberately dragging out the talks.