Iran Nuclear NewsGermany, too, is unsatisfied by Iran's proposal

Germany, too, is unsatisfied by Iran’s proposal

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International Herald Tribune: Germany joined in criticizing the latest Iranian nuclear proposal Thursday, as an exiled opposition group charged that Iran was secretly building advanced centrifuges at a rate that could dramatically accelerate its production of nuclear fuel. International Herald Tribune

By Brian Knowlton

Germany joined in criticizing the latest Iranian nuclear proposal Thursday, as an exiled opposition group charged that Iran was secretly building advanced centrifuges at a rate that could dramatically accelerate its production of nuclear fuel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin that the Iranian response Tuesday to a package of incentives offered by world powers was unsatisfactory because Tehran had not agreed to halt nuclear enrichment work as the United Nations demanded, Agence France- Presse reported.

“We are still reviewing it,” Merkel told the N24 news channel, “but from everything I hear, we cannot be satisfied with it. It does not state what we expect – namely, ‘We are suspending uranium enrichment, coming to the negotiating table, and will speak about the opportunities and possibilities for Iran.’ We will appeal for that to happen in the coming days.”

This put her largely in line with the U.S. and French reactions. The United States, while critical of Iran’s failure to end enrichment, has not rejected its proposal outright.

“The diplomats are continuing to look at it,” said a White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino. “We’re working with our allies.”

President George W. Bush telephoned Merkel on Thursday to discuss both Iran and Lebanon; it was unclear whether he spoke to her before her public comments on Iran.

Tehran faces possible UN sanctions if it continues enrichment work past an Aug. 31 deadline set by the Security Council.

The United States and Europe had offered Tehran the possibility of U.S. help with a civilian nuclear program, but only if Iran stopped its enrichment work. Iran has insisted that its program is aimed at providing civilian nuclear energy.

A news conference in Paris by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which seeks the ouster of the current Iranian government, appeared timed to put maximum pressure on Tehran ahead of the UN deadline. The group has provided some accurate information on concealed Iranian nuclear activities, as well as some that was not later confirmed.

The group said Thursday that Iran had built at least 15 advanced P-2 centrifuges and would have hundreds more by next year, Reuters reported from Paris. These would allow it to speed up dramatically nuclear-fuel production.

A spokesman for the exiled opposition group, Mohammad Mohaddessin, said that Tehran was fabricating centrifuges at a secret site operated by the Iran Centrifuge Technology Co.

There was no way immediately to assess the accuracy of the report. Iran has rejected its previous claims.

If confirmed, the use of P-2 centrifuges would mark a noteworthy advance over Iran’s use, reported in April, of a network of 164 older P-1 centrifuges.

Iran had previously insisted that it halted work on P-2 technology three years ago. But Western nuclear analysts had suspected that Iran was operating a parallel program in secret, using technology developed by A.Q. Khan, the renegade Pakistani nuclear engineer.

In April, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran was conducting research on the P-2. The centrifuges, by spinning at extremely high speeds, can concentrate the key component in uranium, uranium-235, for use either in fuel reactors or atomic weapons.

Mohaddessin, the opposition group spokesman, also said that Iran was increasing its stock of older P-1 centrifuges and accelerating work on a heavy- water nuclear reactor at Arak that could produce bomb-grade plutonium.

Iran said Tuesday that it was ready for “serious negotiations” on the matter with the permanent Security Council members and Germany. But they say its refusal to first halt nuclear work is unacceptable.

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