AFP: Iran will soon resume uranium enrichment and will
reject any proposal from the European Union that does not recognise the Islamic republic’s right to carry out this ultra-sensitive nuclear activity, top negotiators warned Tuesday. “I think the end of the suspension is very close, and the Europeans should keep to their commitments,” Hossein Mousavian told the hardline Kayhan newspaper. AFP
By Siavosh Ghazi
TEHRAN – Iran will soon resume uranium enrichment and will reject any proposal from the European Union that does not recognise the Islamic republic’s right to carry out this ultra-sensitive nuclear activity, top negotiators warned Tuesday.
“I think the end of the suspension is very close, and the Europeans should keep to their commitments,” Hossein Mousavian told the hardline Kayhan newspaper.
“Perhaps the Europeans were imagining things after the presidential election,” said top negotiator Cyrus Nasseri, referring to the shock win by hardliner Mahmood Ahmadinejad and the defeat of the favourite, the more moderate Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
“But they know that if their proposal does not include (a resumption of) uranium enrichment, Iran will reject it,” he told the paper.
Britain, France and Germany are trying to convince Iran to completely abandon its enrichment programme — which could be diverted to making a bomb — and have promised to come up with the outlines of a long-term accord by the end of July.
Iran claims it only wants to make atomic fuel for energy purposes and argues it has a right to do so as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
But it has a track record of covering up its activities and agreed to suspend enrichment in October 2003 and widen the freeze last year. Rafsanjani was seen as a figure more likely to reach a deal, and the victory of Ahmadinejad has left EU diplomats very pessimistic.
According to European diplomats close to the talks, the forthcoming EU-3 proposal will not satisfy Iranian demands that it be allowed to resume fuel cycle work, but instead focus on incentives that could lure the Iranians into abandoning the dual-use work.
“If the proposals recognise the legitimate right of Iran to enrichment, we will continue the (negotiating) process, but if not we will not accept a continuation,” Mousavian said.
If Iran does choose to resume enrichment, even under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision, diplomats say it is all but certain of being hauled before the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.
“Our enemies are determined to deprive Iran of civil nuclear technology,” said another negotiator, Ali Agha-Mohammadi. “But the Europeans must not think they can wipe out Iranian determination.”
“If they commit this error, the only thing that will happen is that our youth will stand alongside their revolutionary fathers and resist”.
Meanwhile Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi told a gathering of foreign ambassadors in Tehran that the election of a hardliner as president did not necessarily spell a more confrontational approach, saying the next government would continue to stand by Iran’s “absolute right” to enrichment.
“The general policy of the country is decided on by the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the different governments apply it. The nuclear policy is a part of this,” Kharazi said.
“Certain worries are without foundation, and we will follow the same policies that we did under (outgoing President Mohammad) Khatami, who insisted on our absolute right to use peaceful nuclear technology.”
He added that “no power can force us to renounce our legitimate and evident right”.