Iran insists it has right to enrich uranium

Rejects proposal to have work transferred to Russia.

iran nuclear 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
iran nuclear 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The spokesman for the government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted on Monday that Iran has a "right" to carry out uranium enrichment, the process that could lead to the development of a nuclear bomb, on its own soil, despite efforts by Russia to have the work transferred to Russian soil to ease international concerns, Iranian media reported. Gholam-Hossein Elham, however, told journalists at his weekly press conference that Teheran would study the Russian proposal on the basis that it could carry out enrichment domestically as well. Ali Larijani, secretary-general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and top nuclear negotiator, officially rejected on Sunday any Russian proposal that would overlook Iran's right to enrichment within its own borders. The offer would deny Teheran's right to "be in charge of its own fate" on energy matters, Larijani told state television. Official Teheran has rejected the Russian offer, but Moscow is not going to call it quits. Sources close to Sergei Kirienko, the head of ROSATOM, the federal atomic energy agency, told The Jerusalem Post that the issue will be discussed further during Kirienko's official visit to Iran next month. Kirienko was appointed the head of the agency in November 2005 and it will be his first visit to Iran as a head of ROSATOM. According to Sergei Novikov, Kirienko's press secretary, in the course of the visit Kirienko will inspect the nuclear reactor in Busher, which is supposed to go on line later this year and will hold negotiations with the heads of Iranian atomic energy program. Among other issues, the highly disputed Russian offer to enrich uranium will be discussed, disclosed the source. Iranian government-controlled television reported that the subject was also discussed in a telephone conversation last week between Igor Ivanov, head of Russia's National Security Council, and Larijani, who criticized the offer but didn't reject it out-of-hand. Ivanov's office denies this report. During the last 10 days, the Iranian position on the Russian offer has changed several times - from a complete denial that such an offer was ever made, to a statement by Jawad Vaidi, head of the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna, who said Iran is willing to further study the offer. Moscow still hopes that the latest declaration is not the end of the story, as the heads of state see this deal as the only possible solution to the Iranian atomic dead-end. Russia sees in Iran a vital strategic and economic partner and is eager to maintain its ties with Teheran, but not at the cost of compromising relations with the EU-3, Britain, Germany and France. While the activating of the reactor at Busher draws closer then ever, analysts believe Moscow will increasingly apply its political leverage in attempt to have the offer accepted or at least reconsidered.