Sunday, October 24, 2004

US to refer Iran to UNSC: Powell

Hi Pakistan: "US to refer Iran to UNSC: Powell

TOKYO: The United States has seen no sign Iran will comply with international demands on its suspect nuclear programme and will push next month for the matter to be sent to the UN Security Council unless Tehran reverses its course, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Saturday.

Powell said Washington believed it could get support from the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran to the Security Council in the event it fails to comply with its IAEA obligations and commitments to European nations.

"I think everybody left the September meeting believing that if there was not a significant response, and a very clear significant response that met all of the IAEA requirements and was totally consistent with the agreement they had with the EU, that there should be a referral in November," Powell said.

"We’re approaching November and it is our position that we should continue to march toward action by the IAEA ... that would refer it to the Security Council if there is no complete satisfaction on the part of the Iranians toward the international obligations and commitments that they have made," he said.

Powell made the comments to reporters aboard his plane en route to Japan, the first leg of a three-nation Asian tour during which another nuclear dilemma-North Korea’s atomic weapons programmes-will be the chief focus.

He said the United States was looking forward to hearing Iran’s formal response to a proposal from Europe’s three key states for it to avoid possible UN sanctions and receive nuclear technology by indefinitely suspending uranium enrichment.

The United States has frowned on the incentives offered by Britain, France and Germany but made no move to stop the offer from being made and Powell held out little hope that Tehran would respond positively.

Meanwhile, conservative MPs in Iran on Saturday denounced Europe’s call for Iran to halt all uranium enrichment activities if it wants to avoid the threat of UN sanctions over its nuclear activities. "The European proposal is an excessive demand that is contrary to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and unacceptable," Alaeddin Brujerdi, the influential head of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, told the conservative newspaper Ressalat.

Britain, France and Germany presented Iran with a deal on Thursday aimed at avoiding possible sanctions under which Tehran would receive valuable nuclear technology if it indefinitely suspended all uranium enrichment activities, according to a document prepared by the Europeans.

But Brujerdi also raised the possibility that the conservative-controlled parliament could pass a bill forcing Iran to halt its suspension of uranium enrichment in defiance of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"The European offer is a denial of the Iranian nation’s legal rights bestowed under the NPT," Brujerdi said. "The Islamic republic of Iran will not accept a (Western) monopoly on nuclear technology and will pursue its activities with determination."

Under the European deal, Iran would receive technology, including a light-water reactor which would produce less fissionable material than the heavy-water reactor Tehran is planning to build with Russian help in Bushehr.

"The enrichment of uranium is a question of national dignity and no-one can force the leaders of the country to renounce it, said Hamid Reza Hadji-Babaie, an MP and member of the speaker’s office. "The negotiations were positive but the Europeans must take account of our red lines, that is Iran’s refusal to renounce the nuclear fuel cycle."

The official state news agency IRNA quoted an anonymous diplomat in Vienna saying that the next round of talks between Iran and the European Three would start on Wednesday. A report published this week by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a military and defence think tank, said that assuming Iran lifts the suspension on its enrichment programme, "it is still probably a few years away from full scale production of enough enriched uranium for a small nuclear arsenal".

Iran’s former representative to the IAEA, Ali-Akbar Salehi, said the European proposals contained both positive and negative points, and urged the country’s leaders to examine them without hesitation. "I believe the two sides do not want to reach a deadlock. So the Europeans must move some way towards our position," Salehi told AFP.

But another conservative MP dismissed the European offer. "A light-water reactor is useable only for medical and agricultural needs but a heavy-water reactor can also produce plutonium for use in nuclear power plants," another MP Heshmatollah Falahat-Pisheh said, quoted by the conservative Kayhan newspaper."


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