Reuters: Iran on Thursday once again rejected international calls for it to scrap nuclear fuel production and accused the United States of trying to obstruct a diplomatic solution to its atomic dispute with the West. By Parisa Hafezi
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran on Thursday once again rejected international calls for it to scrap nuclear fuel production and accused the United States of trying to obstruct a diplomatic solution to its atomic dispute with the West.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator made the statement as the U.N. Security Council wrangles over a resolution to make legally binding demands that Tehran halt uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for power stations or bomb material.
“Based on law, Iran has planned to produce 20,000 MW of nuclear electricity in the next 20 years and needs to produce nuclear fuel inside the country for those reactors,” chief negotiator Ali Larijani said in a statement, state TV reported.
He said Iran was still reviewing proposals backed by six leading world powers and wanted talks to solve the dispute. But he said the United States “has been trying to create obstacles in the way of talks and a diplomatic solution to this issue”.
Iran’s case was referred back to the Security Council last week after failing to formally respond to the proposals that include diplomatic and economic incentives to try to persuade Tehran to suspend its sensitive nuclear work.
Iran has said it would reply by August 22 to the package offered by the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France — the five permanent members of the Security Council — plus Germany. It has rejected calls for a swifter response.
Iran says it wants nuclear talks with European states and on Wednesday President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Its content has not been revealed.
But Western diplomats said Larijani showed no clear sign that Iran wanted to discuss the offer when he met EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana last week.
“Iran has no other way than to review its nuclear policies if confrontation is chosen, instead of talks,” Larijani said in the statement without elaborating.
AT ODDS AT THE U.N.
Iranian officials have previously threatened that, if pushed, Iran would review cooperation with the U.N. atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the country’s adherence to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iran has already stopped short-notice visits by the IAEA, although inspectors still make routine visits to Iranian sites.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said on Wednesday major powers disagreed about how to make legally binding demands that Iran suspend enrichment and stop work on a reactor that can produce plutonium, which in turn can have military applications.
Russia and China, which have opposed sanctions, have raised questions in informal talks about the resolution backed by Western nations, which fear Iran is trying to build bombs. Tehran insists its aims are purely civilian.
The draft includes threats of sanctions and will also set a date, possibly by the end of August, for Iran to comply.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would back a deadline but did not say whether it backed sanctions.
“A lot of time has passed, a lot more than the Iranian president promised our president (Vladimir Putin) in terms of when Iran would give its reply,” Lavrov said in an interview published in Kommersant newspaper on Thursday.
Although Iran has yet to formally reply to the six-nation package, Iranian officials have given no sign that Tehran is ready to back away from plans to enrich uranium inside Iran.