Saturday, September 25, 2004

Channelnewsasia.com: Iran's cooperation conditional on full right to nuclear technology

Channelnewsasia.com: "Iran's cooperation conditional on full right to nuclear technology

TEHRAN : Iran is ready to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energuy Agency (IAEA) on condition it has complete rights to use peaceful nuclear technology, Iran's nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

Meanwhile, another senior official, Hossein Moussavian, warned that Iran could resume enrichment of uranium "tomorrow," if it wanted to.

"Tehran is ready to completely cooperate with international pacts in the nuclear field, on condition it is fully granted its legitimate and national rights regarding peaceful nuclear technology," Rowhani said during a meeting with South African ambassador Yusof Saluji.

Rowhani will head to South Africa on Sunday to hold talks on security issues, mutual cooperation and nuclear issues.

In a resolution passed on September 18, the IAEA called on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment-related activities, a part of the nuclear fuel cycle that can be directed to both energy and weapons purposes.

Nuclear fuel cycle work, including enrichment, is permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty if it is for peaceful purposes, but the IAEA wants such activities stopped pending the completion of its more than 18-month-old investigation.

Iran suspended enrichment itself last year, but has continued to advance on other parts of the fuel cycle.

Moussavian, in an interview with the student news agency ISNA, said Tehran wanted to pursue dialogue and could envisage maintaining the enrichment suspension for several more months.

"But we will not accept a halt" to enrichment -- only a suspension, for a specific and brief period.

He said the country's "final decision on this should be decided within a week."

The resolution from the board of the UN nuclear watchdog also gives Iran until November 25 to clear up suspicions over its activities. Failure to do so could see the country referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions -- something the United States has been pushing for.

But Moussavian warned that referring the matter to the Security Council "will cost the G-8 dearly," a reference to the world's seven most highly industrialized nations and Russia.

He said Iran would do "an about face in its nuclear policy, on its application of the additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and could even go beyond that," an apparent threat to pull out of the treaty altogether.

He said Iran did "not currently have plans to break off dialogue" with the Europeans, while the Americans are pushing for more pressure on Tehran, and called for a "solution that satisfies both parties.

"If we do not reach that, we will break off the discussions.""

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