Iran: We haven't replied to offer

Iran rejects uranium shi

By AP, JPOST.COM STAFF, HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
October 30, 2009 07:43
4 minute read.
UN nuclear inspectors 248.88

UN nuclear inspectors 248.88. (photo credit: )

 
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Iran has not yet given its answer to a UN-backed uranium plan, only expressed its "positive attitude" and willingness to hold talks on the proposal, according to the state news agency IRNA. Under the plan, Iran would ship most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment to produce fuel for a Tehran research reactor. IRNA quoted an unidentified official saying Friday that Iran's message to the UN nuclear watchdog a day earlier "did not contain a reply" to the plan. The official said Iran would give its "viewpoint" on the plan in further talks. IRNA said Iran demands that there be a simultaneous exchange of uranium for the reactor fuel, adding, "Iran will in no way neglect this condition." Earlier Friday, European leaders pressed Iran to stick by a deal that would limit its uranium enrichment, voicing "grave concern" over the country's nuclear program. Western diplomats said this week that Teheran had rejected a plan proposed by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei at talks involving Iran, the US, Russia and France. Iran missed an initial deadline of last Friday to respond, and instead this week offered to enrich its uranium to a higher level inside the country under UN supervision. EU leaders expressed "grave concern over the development of Iran's nuclear program, and Iran's persistent failure to meet its international obligations," according to a draft statement circulating on the second day of a two-day EU summit in Brussels. The statement also urged Iran to agree to the UN atomic watchdog's scheme for supplying nuclear fuel to Teheran's research reactor, saying such an agreement "would contribute to building confidence." A copy of the statement was obtained by The Associated Press. Progress on the nuclear issue, it said, "Would pave the way for enhanced relations between the EU and Iran ... in the political, economic, security and technical fields." EU leaders also said they deplored continued violations of human rights in Iran, and urged the authorities to release EU citizens and employees of European missions there. British Foreign Secretary David Milliband said at the summit Thursday that he was "deeply concerned" about news of the Iranian sentencing of a British Embassy employee, Hossein Rassam. "I've received very strong support from all my European Union colleagues, who see in this not just an attack on one diplomatic mission but on all the diplomatic missions in Teheran," he said. A French researcher and French Embassy employee were both charged in a mass trial of those accused of fomenting unrest in postelection protests in Iran in June. Both are freed on bail, though neither can leave Iran pending a verdict. European diplomats and US officials were quoted by the New York Times on Thursday night as saying that Teheran had informed the UN that it had rejected the proposal, but had not provided a reason for backing out of the draft agreement formulated during a conference in Vienna last week. However, the sources said that the Iranians had objected to the main component of the plan, which called for a large quantity of its uranium stockpile to be transferred to Russia, where it would be enriched into metal fuel rods before returning to the Islamic republic. The plan, meant to aid Iran in the powering of a small medical research reactor in its capital, would have ensured that the amount to be shipped - three quarters of its total stock - would leave Teheran with insufficient resources to produce a nuclear weapon. Aside from the technical aspect, the deal was intended to build confidence and trust between Iran and the West. Earlier this week, an Iranian official was quoted in Teheran's state media as saying that his country would seek "important changes" in the draft deal, requesting that progress be made in a more gradual manner and hinting that it may renege on the plan entirely and seek to purchase enriched uranium instead of committing to UN-brokered deals. A senior European official quoted by the Times called the Iranian response "basically a refusal." Meanwhile, the paper was told by a US National Security Council Spokesman Michael Hammer that the decision had yet to be made formal by the Iranian government. In Washington, a key Senate committee passed sanctions legislation meant to cripple Teheran's ability to import gasoline, a day after a House committee did the same. The legislation still needs to pass a full session of both houses of the legislature before it can become law. Speaking at rally on Thursday in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran's "inalienable right" to uranium enrichment and lauded Western nations for their transition from "confrontation to interaction." Ahmadinejad said that the "ground has been paved for nuclear cooperation," adding that Teheran was ready to work together with the UN nuclear watchdog to procure nuclear fuel supplies and technical know-how. However, Iran's president then hedged on whether Iran would fulfill the agreement as it had been worked out. Iran welcomed the international offer to ship out 70 percent of its enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment, he said, but was vague as to whether the Islamic Republic would sign the deal.

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