AP: Indonesia called on Iran to be more transparent in its uranium enrichment program, but defended the country’s right to produce nuclear energy, ahead of a state visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Canadian Press
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Indonesia called on Iran to be more transparent in its uranium enrichment program, but defended the country’s right to produce nuclear energy, ahead of a state visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said Ahmadinejad, due to arrive late Tuesday or early Wednesday for a five-day visit, would discuss the nuclear issue with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The two leaders also are expected to discuss planned multimillion-dollar investments by Iran in the oil and gas sector in Indonesia, which is the world’s most populous Muslim country but also has friendly ties with the United States and European countries.
“We want Iran to be more transparent in its program,” Wirajuda told reporters Tuesday. “We also want Iran’s nuclear development program . . . to fulfill the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
Wirajuda said developing nuclear energy was “a basic right for every country.”
The IAEA has complained that Iran is refusing to co-operate in its efforts to determine whether its program is solely to generate electricity or for making nuclear warheads.
Iran says it has no intention to build a nuclear bomb, but U.S. and European officials suspect the Middle Eastern country secretly intends to.
The United States is backing a draft UN resolution that could lead to sanctions and possible military action against Iran if the country does not suspend uranium enrichment – a process that can produce fuel to generate electricity or material for nuclear warheads.
Ahmadinejad’s trip to Indonesia follows lobbying visits by at least two other high-level Iranian officials in recent months to Indonesia, which is also being courted by Western countries keen to show support for its moderate Muslim traditions.
He is to meet Yudhoyono and other political and religious leaders in the capital, Jakarta, from Wednesday through Friday before flying to the resort of island of Bali for a conference of mostly Muslim countries.
Ahead of Ahmadinejad’s arrival, Elnusa, a unit of Indonesia’s state-owned oil company, signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Iranian Oil Refinery and Distribution Co. to build a 300,000-barrel-a-day refinery.
An Elnusa official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the refinery would require a total investment of up to $4 billion to $5 billion US, and that 70 per cent of the refinery’s output would be for export.
More details of the deal were expected later.
Last month, Indonesia’s foreign ministry said it expected Iran would sign $600 million in investments in Indonesia’s gas and oil sector during Ahmadinejad’s visit.
Indonesia is the sole Southeast Asian member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, but became a net oil importer in 2005 following decades of low investment in the energy sector.