Reuters: Iran said on Monday talks with Russia this week to discuss proposals to process nuclear fuel for Iranian reactors on Russian soil had been postponed. By Alireza Ronaghi
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday talks with Russia this week to discuss proposals to process nuclear fuel for Iranian reactors on Russian soil had been postponed.
The proposal was put forward by Moscow to ease international concerns that Iran could enrich bomb-grade uranium.
“Talks with Russia have not been canceled, but the date should be discussed,” government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham told a weekly news conference.
Russia and Iran were scheduled to hold talks on Thursday to see if any headway could be made on the Russian proposal.
Elham said the proposal was only acceptable if it was in addition to enrichment facilities in Iran. “The government insists on enriching uranium on Iran’s soil and the proposal should be adjusted based on the new circumstances,” Elham said.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said Moscow remained prepared to hold talks with Iran over the proposal on February 16.
“Our proposal to meet on February 16 still stands,” Kislyak told Interfax news agency.
Western countries have successfully pushed for Iran to be reported to the United Nations Security Council for failing to convince the world its atomic program was entirely peaceful.
Iran says it only wants to enrich low-grade uranium for use in nuclear power rectors and that, as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it has a right to do so.
Elham repeated Iran’s demand that Western countries recognize Iran’s right to nuclear technology as a signatory to the NPT. “We are committed to international treaties to preserve our right,” Elham said.
“But if our right was not recognized, there will be no reason to remain committed to international treaties.”
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned on Saturday that Tehran might review its membership of the NPT if it felt its enemies were using the accord to put unfair pressure on Iran.
But Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Sunday played down Ahmadinejad’s threat on the withdrawal from the NPT, saying Iran had no intention of pulling out of the treaty.
Elham said Iran would resume its uranium enrichment activities at its Natanz plant by March 6, when the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei submits his report on Iran’s atomic work to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors.
“Iran is determined to go ahead with its peaceful atomic work … We will not wait until then (March 6),” he said.