Financial Times: Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, defied threats from Britain, France and Germany to cut off talks on its nuclear programme and said yesterday the decision to resume uranium conversion activity was irreversible. Financial Times
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran and Christopher Adams in London
Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, defied threats from Britain, France and Germany to cut off talks on its nuclear programme and said yesterday the decision to resume uranium conversion activity was irreversible.
In a strongly worded letter, the foreign ministers of the three European Union countries – the so-called EU3 – urged Iran not to resume enrichment of uranium at its Isfahan plant. They warned Iran that resuming activity “would terminate our dialogue”.
The US and Europe are worried that Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb. The issue could be referred to the UN Security Council if the EU3 talks fail. Iran says it is developing a civil nuclear programme only.
“They [the EU3″> have clearly told us that if uranium conversion activities start the talks will be cut off, but this is not acceptable to us,” Mr Rowhani told state television. “We are ready to continue the talks and the talks would never be cut off by us. But if Europe is willing to stop the talks, this is up to them . . . Iran is prepared to stand against any threats and, in case of referral to the Security Council, it is the Europeans who will lose and not Iranians.”
Iran had earlier threatened to resume enrichment yesterday but appeared to backtrack last night, with Mr Rowhani saying a restart was more likely next week.
According to Tehran this is to give UN inspectors time to set up their equipment so they can monitor the breaking of seals at Isfahan. Crucially, though, it will also allow Britain, France and Germany to deliver proposals to Iran that would help it develop a civil programme in return for abandoning all enrichment activity.
European diplomats said the three foreign ministers had received letters from Tehran confirming it had notified the International Atomic Energy Agency of its intention to break the seals. “We will present the proposals this weekend but we are preparing for a possible IAEA board meeting next week,” said an EU diplomat.
Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, a conservative fundamentalist who won last month’s presidential election, took office yesterday. With no direct reference to the talks, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad indicated no retreat from Iran’s plans to build nuclear plants.