AFP: Russian envoys held talks with Iranian officials Saturday on a proposed compromise to end a stand-off with the West over Tehran’s determination to press ahead with uranium enrichment, state television reported. TEHRAN, Jan 7 (AFP) – Russian envoys held talks with Iranian officials Saturday on a proposed compromise to end a stand-off with the West over Tehran’s determination to press ahead with uranium enrichment, state television reported.
“The Russian delegation has started talks about joint enrichment on Russian territory and also enrichment on Iranian soil,” the spokesman of Iran’s top security body, Hossein Entezami, was quoted as saying.
Russian media said the delegation included deputy foreign minister Sergei Kisliak, security council deputy secretary Valentin Sobolev, and representatives of the Russian atomic energy organization Rosatom.
Moscow is proposing that Tehran carry out uranium enrichment on its territory to allay Western fears that the technology could allow Iran to produce a nuclear bomb.
Both the European Union and the United States have backed the proposal in principle.
In recent weeks, Iranian officials have blown hot and cold about the proposed compromise, first suggesting that they might consider it and then insisting that they would do so only if any deal explicitly recognized its right to carry out enrichment on Iranian soil.
“If it says that enrichment can only happen in Russia, it’s not acceptable,” foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Tuesday.
“But if it’s a parallel and complementary plan we will consider that.”
Asefi said talks with the Russians were necessary to discuss what he described as “ambiguities” in the plan.
“It’s not a structured proposal it is still an idea, we have to discuss it,” he said.
The same day, Iran’s Supreme Council for National Security further complicated efforts to find a compromise with an announcement that it was preparing to resume research into the nuclear fuel cycle after a suspension of more than two years.
The move prompted Washington to warn it was considering seeking to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council for enforcement action over its nuclear programme.
“If negotiations have been exhausted, we have the votes, there is a resolution sitting there on the Security Council, we’ll vote it,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday.
The European Union has been looking for a way to resume talks, broken off last August, on securing safeguards from Iran that its nuclear programme is exclusively for energy needs in return for economic or other rewards.