Iran Nuclear NewsIran-EU officials to meet on nuclear crisis next week

Iran-EU officials to meet on nuclear crisis next week


AFP: Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani will meet EU foreign policy Chief Javier Solana next week to discuss an international plan to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, with the West demanding a response in two weeks. by Farhad Pouladi

TEHRAN (AFP) – Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani will meet EU foreign policy Chief Javier Solana next week to discuss an international plan to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, with the West demanding a response in two weeks.

“In the next two weeks there will be discussions with Mr Solana about our nuclear case, and next week I will go to Spain and I will meet with Mr Solana,” Larijani was quoted by state news agency IRNA as saying.

Solana, meeting with Group of Eight foreign ministers in Moscow at talks expected to cover the Iran crisis, said the meeting would probably be Wednesday and would be “in Europe, probably in Brussels.”

On June 6, Solana handed Iran a proposal from the five permanent UN Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany.

It promises incentives and multilateral talks if Iran agrees to temporarily halt uranium enrichment, something Tehran has so far refused to do.

The enrichment work is at the centre of international concerns that Iran is using a Russian-backed civilian nuclear power programme to pursue a secret weapons plan.

Tehran vehemently denies such allegations, saying it wants nuclear technology only to generate electricity.

Diplomats say Iran was asked to reply by June 29, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last week Tehran would take until August 22 to answer.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said in Moscow Thursday that Iran must reply before the G8 summit, which begins on July 15.

“We expect their reply before July 15 … It seems clear to me that Iran will say yes. Then there will be negotiations,” he said.

“If the response is negative between now and July 15, then it is clear that the international community will be firm and that, in particular, we will continue what we have begun in the (UN) Security Council,” he added, referring to discussions over potential measures against Iran.

“It is necessary to create conditions for a return to negotiations,” he said.

Larijani reiterated that Iran was not bound by any deadline.

“There is no deadline, and such talks are media material and are unrealistic,” he said.

He also repeated Iran’s insistence that it has a right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

“Our nation is insisting on their rights, but they did not listen to us and referred our case to the (United Nations) Security Council for investigation, which was a bad thing to do,” he said.

In February, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Iran to the Security Council for hiding sensitive nuclear work and losing the confidence of the international community by breaking a suspension of uranium enrichment activities.

“But recently they want to solve the case through negotiations, which is the right thing to do and we have welcomed it. If they are honest in their deeds, we hope to reach good results,” Larijani added.

The ministerial meeting in Moscow is seen as one of the last opportunities to iron out differences ahead of the summit in Saint Petersburg of leaders of the G8, which comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Russia has played a significant role in the discussions over Iran’s nuclear program, being a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a close ally of Tehran.

On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin again underlined his differences with the West on the Iran issue, saying Russia did not intend “to join any sort of ultimatum, which only pushes the situation into a dead end”.

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