silvan shalom 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Iran's announcement Sunday that it will renew nuclear fuel research - a key stage in developing nuclear potential - is a sign of self-confidence and demonstrates the world's failure to halt Teheran's nuclear drive, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the cabinet on Sunday.
The failure of the international community to bring the issue to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions strengthens Iranian confidence that they can continue with their nuclear program, he said.
Iran announced Sunday that inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog agency were in the country and preparing to remove seals from nuclear research facilities no later than Monday, allowing Tehran to move forward with its vow to resume nuclear fuel research.
"Iran is ready to resume the research activities after the inspectors remove the seals. It is our right as other members of the Nonproliferation Treaty. Iran should not be exempted," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
The official Islamic Republic News Agency said Iranian officials claimed 90 percent of issues related to the resumption of research had been solved with the rest likely to be hashed out by the end of the day, Monday at latest.
"There is a possibility of official resumption of the activity today (Sunday) after the inspectors' consultations with the IAEA's head office in Vienna ends," IRNA reported.
Shalom told the cabinet that initial talks between the US and the EU-3 - Britain, France and Germany - which have been negotiating with Iran over the nuclear issue, has indicated agreement that if Iran goes ahead with its latest step it would lead to an end to the European contacts with Iran, and would lead the EU and US to mount a joint effort to get a concrete decision against Iran at the UN Security Council.
Shalom said that in pursing the diplomatic course of trying to get the issue moved to the Security Council, Israel must be careful to ensure that the problem remains an international - not an Israeli - one. "This," Shalom said, "despite efforts by the Iranian President to present it only as an Iranian-Israeli confrontation."
Tehran says its nuclear program is for electricity generation, despite US and European concerns that it is moving to produce nuclear bombs. The US and France have pushed for taking Iran before the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions on Tehran if it is found in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Tehran Saturday to remove seals from nuclear research facilities that they affixed after Iran voluntarily agreed to stop all enrichment-related activities more than two years ago as a confidence building measure.
Last week, Iran told the IAEA it would resume the research on Monday, a move that further increased concerns in the West that Iran is moving toward production of nuclear weapons.
In Vienna, the tug of war continued Sunday between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which asked for additional details about what exactly Tehran planned to do with its enrichment equipment.
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said that - while the agency had received additional information since Saturday, when Tehran first gave the agency some specifics - it still sought more.
On Thursday, a high-ranking Iranian delegation rebuffed IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei, reneging on a pledge to provide full details of its plans by not showing up for a scheduled meeting with him.
Russian officials in Iran, meanwhile, continued talks about Moscow's proposal that the two countries conduct uranium enrichment, a process that can produce nuclear fuel for reactors or atomic weapons depending on the degree of enrichment, on Russian territory.
The Russian proposal, backed by the European Union and the United States, was designed ease concerns that Iran would use the fuel to build a bomb.
But Iran's senior nuclear negotiator said the country still wants the fuel cycle on its own soil. "Iran's right on nuclear fuel, especially enrichment, inside the country has to be guaranteed in any proposal," Javad Vaidi told state-run radio.
IRNA said Iran still had questions about what it has called "ambiguities" in the proposal.
"The negotiation with Russians continues today (Sunday), and we will try to conclude today. Iran has raised new questions on the proposal that the Russian side could not convincingly answer. Russia may give their final answers today after reviewing Iran's position," IRNA reported.
Shalom told the cabinet that the impression was created that if Iran rejected the Russian proposal, Russia would move toward supporting moving the issue to the Security Council. A threatened Russian veto of sanctions has been considered one of the main obstacles to bringing the issue to the UN.
Asefi said there was no room for international concern about the actions, "We are doing research and development according to the agency's regulations as well as NPT's. We believe the western countries should not seek a double standard in this respect. The activities will be under supervision of the agency, therefore there is nothing to be worried about."
Hossein Ghafourian, head of the nuclear research center of Iran's atomic energy organization, said there was no turning back. "(The organization) plans to continue its peaceful program. Blocking research activities is similar to blocking the light," Ghafourian told state-run radio on Sunday.
Tehran has not specified what research it will resume.
Javier Solana, the European Union foreign and security affairs chief, told Iran on Saturday that if it resumes its uranium enrichment program, it may doom any further negotiations with the EU about economic aid and other issues.