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News | Iran: Talks 'Test for the West'; West: No Explicit Right to Enrichment


18 Jun 2012 17:00Comments

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13910329145138437_PhotoL.jpg5 p.m. IRDT, 29 Khordad/June 18 The new round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany -- began in Moscow at 2:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, and lasted about two hours. The P5+1 has been pressing Iran to immediately suspend uranium enrichment at 19.75 percent, ship out its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, and shut down the Fordow facility near Qom.

Iran has been pushing for the suspension of at least some of the sanctions imposed by the European countries and for P5+1 recognition of Iran's right to enrich uranium. "These negotiations are a great test for the West, as to whether they can tolerate Iran's progress," Mehr News Agency, which is owned by the Organization for Islamic Propaganda, quoted Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, as saying just before entering the talks.

Mehr also quoted Michael Mann, a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, the E.U. foreign policy chief who leads the P5+1 delegation, as telling reporters, "There is a good environment in the negotiation, and everything is proceeding calmly." According to the report, it was agreed during the last phone conversation between Ashton and Jalili that Iran's proposal would be discussed during the negotiations. When told by a reporter for ISNA, the Iranian Students News Agency, that Iran believes that the P5+1 must first recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium, after which it will be prepared to negotiate over the group's proposal by, Mann responded, "No, Iran must first respond to [the] P5+1 [proposal]." Mann then claimed that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty does not explicitly mention that every member state has the right to enrich uranium. "Our priority at this point is for Iran to respond to our requests and proposal that we gave Iran in writing [in Baghdad], which is that Iran suspend uranium enrichment at 20 percent [more precisely, 19.75 percent], ship out its stockpile of the 20 percent enriched uranium to outside the country, and close the Fordow enrichment facility."

When asked whether the P5+1 really believes that the sanctions will force Iran to retreat, Mann responded, "Sanctions are a clear policy that has produced results. There exist European sanctions on Iran's oil exports. Of course, the sanctions may be relaxed, if there are real changes. For every step, there will be a reciprocal step. We must recognize the steps clearly. We do not want to negotiate for the sake of negotiating. These [points] were reviewed during the phone conversations between Ashton and Jalili." When asked what the P5+1 will do if Iran suspends enrichment at 20 percent, Mann repeated the same minor concessions that the West offered in Baghdad: "Iran will receive parts for [old] aircraft [bought from Europe and the United States] and aid for the Tehran Research Reactor."

IRNA, Iran's state news agency, quoted an unnamed Iranian official as saying that the Islamic Republic will abide by certain principles and not withdraw from them in the slightest. "The least expected by the Iranian negotiators from the P5+1 is acknowledging Iran's right to uranium enrichment. If they do not recognize Iran's right to nuclear enrichment in Moscow, the talks will surely fail," he said. According to IRNA, the source said that the Western media has been creating the impression that the Moscow talks are doomed. "If our right to uranium enrichment is not officially recognized, Iran does not fear the failure of negotiations anyhow. Iran wants the P5+1 to abide by the agreements reached in Baghdad regarding holding talks on five topics as proposed by Tehran. As long as we do not discuss the five issues, we do not have anything to do in subsequent rounds of negotiations," he concluded.

The New York Times quoted an unidentified Western official as saying that the major powers are "poised to take reciprocal steps in exchange for verifiable Iranian actions," presumably beyond the minor concessions offered in Baghdad.

On Sunday afternoon, Ali Bagheri, Jalili's deputy for international affairs at the Supreme National Security Council, met with Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Yucheng in Moscow. On Monday evening, Jalili and Ashton will take part in an official dinner for the delegates. They were supposed to meet on Sunday night, but ISNA reported that the meeting was cancelled.

Iran's three "strategies" for Moscow talks

ISNA, quoting "an informed source close to Iran's negotiation team," reported that Iran will approach the Moscow negotiations with three "strategies." First, it will criticize the P5+1 for refusing to hold a meeting between Jalili's and Ashton's deputies prior to the Moscow summit. Iran will say that such a meeting would have contributed to the potential success of the main talks, and that this was an opportunity squandered by the P5+1.

Second, Iran has prepared a "reasoned" and detailed response, based on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to the proposal presented by the P5+1 in Baghdad.

Third, Iran will bring up, once again, the five-point package that it first presented in Baghdad, in hopes that the P5+1 is serious about the commitment it has made to discuss it.

Ahmadinejad interview

In a long interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that appeared Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "We are ready on a voluntary basis to make a positive step if the other party makes a similar step, We hope that we will make progress in Moscow. They all know that Iran has no intention of...making nuclear weapons, and considers such a move as against humanity. But the Iranian nation is used to such enmities [on the part of the West]."

The complete interview was reproduced by ISNA. Asked why Iran insists on using nuclear energy despite the difficulties that its has created for the country, whereas Germany decided to stop using nuclear energy due to its risks, Ahmadinejad responded, "The German government can decide whatever it wants for Germany, but this does not mean that Iran must do the same. If Germany wants to pay the Zionists [Israel] extortion, it does not mean that the Iranian nation must do the same." Ahmadinejad was referring to the extensive aid that Germany provides to Israel.

Emphasizing that all nations have equal rights, Ahmadinejad told the newspaper, "The Islamic Republic of Iran has been a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and is entitled to peaceful use of nuclear energy. It insists on the right of all nations for peaceful use of nuclear energy, and a ban on the use of nuclear weapons by all nations."

Asked why Iran does not allow the agency to inspect Parchin, a military site southeast of Tehran where conventional ammunition and explosives have been produced for decades, the president said, "Nuclear energy has more than 16 applications, one of which is in medicine. A significant portion of the enriched uranium produced in Iran is used in the Tehran Research Reactor to produce medicine [medical isotopes] and the rest is stored for the Bushehr reactor. Inspecting Parchin is not part of the agreement between Iran and the IAEA. If the IAEA does not follow any law and does what it wants everywhere, we will have chaos. The International Atomic Energy Agency has a specific mandate and charter, and Iran cooperates with it within that framework." Ahmadinejad was referring to the fact that Parchin has never been declared to be a nuclear site and that Iran has not signed the Additional Protocol of the Safeguards Agreement that would give the agency intrusive authority to visit any suspected site.

"Over the years," the president continued, "the Iranian nation has witnessed the fact that those who insist on inspecting [everywhere in] Iran armed Saddam [Hussein] with all kinds of weapons of mass destruction and through him imposed an eight-year war on Iran, and are currently arming the Zionists to threaten Iran. Iran is the only country that has provided the agency with [complete] information about its nuclear activities and nuclear scientists. But while the Agency is obliged to keep the information confidential, unfortunately the information is published by the Western and Zionist intelligence networks."

Ahmadinejad asked, "If Iran were dependent on the West, or were a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, or were a friend of the United States and Britain and hundreds of American advisers were living in Iran, would the agency treat Iran the same way?" He added, "The behavior of the a gency is discriminatory. This is the basis of Iran's opposition against a style of [global] management that imposes discrimination on the world, divides the nations into first-, second- and third-rate countries, and imposes poverty, war and hatred between the nations."

The president observed, "All of Iran's nuclear facilities are safeguarded by the agency, and anything that occurs there, anything that is displaced there, even on the smallest scale, is recoded by the agency.... Those who want to dominate the world consider Iran's progress in making satellites, and in biotechnology and nanotechnology, as a threat. And this is while there are nations that possess nuclear bombs, but because they are friends of the arrogant powers, not only are they not under pressure, they are supported. The Islamic Republic of Iran has not attacked any country, but the enemies of the Iranian nation keep their military around Iran."

The interviewer asked, "The West's insistence on Iran creating trust about its nuclear program and Iran's insistence on its positions have led to the failure of the negotiations over the last decade. Should there not be proposals that will lead to the resolution of the standoff over Iran's nuclear program?" Ahmadinejad responded, "I agree that such a proposal must be on the table. But have Iranian ever dictated to the Europeans as to how they should live their lives? We believe that the people of every country must decide [for themselves] how to live. But the European countries allow themselves to set the way the Iranian nation must live and tell us that we must not make peaceful use of nuclear energy. Not only the nuclear issue but the basis for such behavior is important to us. We believe that if we accept such behavior regarding any point, then we must accept everything that they tell us regarding all issues. In the past and currently, we have made good proposals...we suspended all of our nuclear facilities and activities for two and a half years [October 2003 to January 2006], but instead of thanking Iran, the European powers increased the expectations of us, and created more conditions [on the use of nuclear energy] for the Iranian nation."

Ahmadinejad then asked, "Why is it that the European nations do not try to earn our trust?" He then emphasized, "Before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the United States and European countries had signed six agreements with Iran for nuclear cooperation during the reign of the dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, but immediately after the Revolution they cancelled the agreements unilaterally, and their excuse was that the Iranian nation wishes to stand on its own feet. The government of France owes Iran nuclear equipment and materials worth more than $1 billion, and has not delivered to Iran for 33 years the enriched uranium [that the European consortium Eurodif was supposed to send after Iran bought 10 percent of the company in 1975]. How can the Iranian nation trust the P5+1 when they cancel their agreements with us unilaterally, and while they threaten us they also murder our nuclear scientists?"

Responding to a question about whether Iran is willing to discuss enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, Ahmadinejad said, "Enrichment at 20 percent is done only to produce medical isotopes. Contrary to the false propaganda, enrichment at this level does not imply getting closer to making nuclear weapons. The important point is that any nation that can enrich uranium at 3.5 percent can also enrich it at any other level. Iran always said that if the European countries...guarantee that they will supply the 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel for Tehran Research Reactor, we will not have any problem."

The president then said that producing medical isotopes is a humanitarian issue. "Just in Iran, over 800,000 patients use them annually. Those who want everything have even set conditions for selling medicine to Iran.... The Iranian nation cannot allow its sick citizens to die due to international political confrontation and, of course, this is while producing enriched uranium at 20 percent is Iran's right and that of any other country. Creating trust is a mutual thing. We have to see what steps they [the Western powers] take. If they take a positive step, we will be prepared to cooperate with them. I hope that we will have good progress in Moscow."

IRI announcement: Nuclear scientists' assassins arrested

Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi announced the arrest of 20 people supposedly responsible for the assassinations of two nuclear scientists, Majid Shahriari and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, and the latter's driver, Reza Ghashghaei. Moslehi implied that the "terrorists" had used a neighbor of Iran as a base for their operations. Though he did not name the country, it is widely believed that he was referring to the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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