Iran Nuclear NewsIran proposes France monitors uranium enrichment

Iran proposes France monitors uranium enrichment

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Reuters: Iran has proposed France create a consortium to enrich uranium for Tehran’s nuclear programme in an effort to end the stand off over the Islamic state’s atomic ambitions, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday. PARIS, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Iran has proposed France create a consortium to enrich uranium for Tehran’s nuclear programme in an effort to end the stand off over the Islamic state’s atomic ambitions, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday.

Mohammad Saeedi, the deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, told France Info radio that his country would insist the uranium be enriched on Iranian soil, something the international community has previously rejected.

“In order to reach a solution, we’ve just had an idea: we propose that France create a consortium for the production in Iran of enriched uranium,” Saeedi said.

“That way France, via Eurodif and Areva, would be able to monitor in a tangible way, our enrichment activities,” he added, referring to two French companies that work in the nuclear sector.

The French Foreign Ministry declined to comment directly on the report, an official saying only that “what is important for us is the result of the discussions between Solana and Larijani.”

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani have been holding talks in an effort to reach agreement on the nuclear issue. No deal has been reached but further talks are planned.

Charles Hufnagel, a spokesman for state-owned nuclear technology group Areva (CEPFi.PA: Quote, Profile, Research), told Reuters: “We are not aware of such a proposal and are not in any negotiations.

“Such a plan would be a political project, to be made by or on behalf of the EU Troika, but as an industrial firm we are not involved,” he said.

Areva owns Eurodif, Europe’s largest uranium enrichment plant.

The United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany offered Iran a package of incentives in June aimed at persuading Tehran to abandon technology that could be used to make a nuclear weapon.

Iran’s latest offer mirrors in some respects a Russian proposal to create an international consortium to enrich uranium for Iran’s nuclear power stations outside of the country, but this was rejected by the authorities in Tehran. The U.N. Security Council has threatened to impose sanctions unless Iran suspends enrichment, a process the West says could lead to Iran making nuclear bombs.

The international community will have no choice but to impose sanctions on Iran if it fails to suspend enrichment, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday.

Iran says its nuclear activities are aimed purely at civilian electricity generation and Saeedi’s comments come the day after the country said it would not suspend uranium enrichment as demanded by the West.

“Our nation is a respectable nation and will remain so. Iranian nation’s path to obtain its (nuclear) right is an irreversible path,” the official IRNA news agency quoted hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying.

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