Reuters: Iran will not give up its nuclear research activities but may discuss the timing of uranium enrichment resumption in a compromise with the European powers, a senior Iranian security official said on Monday. By Parisa Hafezi
VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran will not give up its nuclear research activities but may discuss the timing of uranium enrichment resumption in a compromise with the European powers, a senior Iranian security official said on Monday.
Deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Javad Vaeedi repeatedly said in an interview with Reuters that Iran would not change its mind about its research and development activities, which the West fears might be used to make atomic bombs.
“The Research and Development activities have started and it is irreversible,” Vaeedi said ahead of a meeting by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors to weigh a report on Iran’s nuclear activity.
Western diplomats say Iran is still some way from being able to resume atomic fuel production on a commercial scale, but experts believe the devices used in research could produce enough material for a warhead within a year.
Vaeedi said Iran would never scrap its nuclear fuel cycle work but was prepared to reach an agreement over the resumption of uranium enrichment, including the timing of a resumption, the conditions and arrangements for international inspections.
“We are ready to make a compromise. We are here to reach a settlement,” Vaeedi said.
But he said while Iran was ready to be flexible on timing, any delay would be brief.
Iran is under international pressure to fully suspend enrichment-related work to rebuild confidence and restart talks on trade incentives.
Iran was reported to the U.N. Security Council last month after failing to convince the international community that its nuclear programme will be used for peaceful purposes.
A diplomat involved in the talks said Iran had offered a one-year enrichment moratorium, but it was rejected by the Europeans who demanded a 10-year suspension.
“Iran is in a mood to compromise. It has offered a selective, voluntary, temporary and non-legally binding suspension,” the diplomat, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
“But Tehran wants to pursue its R&D activities with the use of 3,000 centrifuges. The timetable of the suspension can be negotiated, but not the number of the centrifuges.”
The West accuses Tehran of using a civilian nuclear programme as a front for weapons development. The U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to impose sanctions, is awaiting the outcome of Monday’s IAEA’s board of governors meeting before deciding what action to take.
Vaeedi warned over the consequences of sending Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Security Council.
“It is the West’s call. If they choose confrontation, then we will be ready for that as well,” Vaeedi said.
“Shipping Iran’s nuclear case will transform a political matter into a security one. Under such circumstances, Iran’s reaction will then have to be in the same context.”
Since being reported to the Security Council, Iranian officials had held talks with Russia and the “EU3” of Britain, France and Germany on how to allay fears about Iran’s ambitions.
Vaeedi said Iran wanted to avoid involvement of the Security Council in Iran’s nuclear case.
“It is in everybody’s interest if it is avoided. Conveying Iran’s case may harm Iran but it will certainly harm the others,” Vaeedi said.
“If they try to push us into a corner, naturally we will do our utmost that this will not happen.
Vaeedi said Iran and the West shared common interest in the region. “Iran is an influential country in the Middle East. I hope they will not make a decision that can harm our common interests, including peace and stability, in the region,” Vaeedi said.
U.S. and Iraqi officials often accuse non-Arab Iran of stirring up violence in Iraq but Iran blames Iraq’s Arab neighbours of backing al Qaeda fighters in Iraq.