Reuters: Iran warned the European Union on Tuesday it planned to resume uranium enrichment soon and would reject any proposal by the EU that sought to prevent it from carrying out such sensitive nuclear work. The warning, delivered by several of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, came ahead of crucial talks between Tehran and the EU expected to take place next month. Reuters
By Paul Hughes
TEHRAN – Iran warned the European Union on Tuesday it planned to resume uranium enrichment soon and would reject any proposal by the EU that sought to prevent it from carrying out such sensitive nuclear work.
The warning, delivered by several of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, came ahead of crucial talks between Tehran and the EU expected to take place next month.
At that meeting EU negotiators are due to present a proposal on the long-term future of Iran’s atomic program. Iran, which denies any intention of making nuclear arms, has frozen sensitive nuclear work, like enrichment, while the talks go on.
“If the (EU) proposal considers Iran’s legitimate and legal right to enrich uranium, we will continue the process (of talks), otherwise we won’t accept the proposal,” senior Iranian negotiator Hossein Mousavian was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
“I believe we are very close to ending the suspension (of enrichment activities). It is time for the Europeans to deliver their promises,” the Kayhan daily quoted him as saying.
EU officials, who want Iran to scrap enrichment in return for economic and other incentives, have warned a resumption would probably see Iran’s case referred to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions on Tehran.
But Iranian negotiators, as is often the case ahead of key Iran-EU nuclear talks, adopted a tough stance.
“The Europeans are well aware that what kind of proposal can be accepted by Iran,” said Sirus Naseri, another member of the negotiating team.
“If their proposal lacks the right of uranium enrichment for Iran, Iran will definitely not accept it,” he said.
Naseri predicted that the EU may stall for time, arguing that they need to assess the policies of hardline president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who takes office on Aug. 4.
But officials said Ahmadinejad, who criticized the Iranian nuclear negotiators during the election campaign for being too timid, would not alter Iran’s approach to the nuclear issue.
“If the Europeans think that with the new government in Iran our nuclear policy will change, they are making a strategic mistake,” Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told Kayhan.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi delivered the same message to foreign ambassadors in Tehran.
“Our macro policies are outlined by the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the government is obliged to implement them,” he told ambassadors in Tehran.
“One of those macro policies is our policy regarding the nuclear issue … No power can force us to abandon our legitimate, legal and obvious right to use peaceful nuclear technology,” he said.