ARIS, Nov. 10 - Iran and European negotiators have become deadlocked in their effort to reach a final agreement for Iran to suspend its production of enriched uranium in exchange for possible economic and political incentives, European officials said Wednesday.
After marathon negotiations in Paris last Friday and Saturday, Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, optimistically announced that his government had reached a "preliminary agreement" with senior negotiators of France, Germany, Britain and the European Union, but he emphasized that any suspension of uranium enrichment would be temporary.
The Europeans were more cautious, saying in public that progress had been made in the talks while acknowledging in private the existence of unresolved issues.
Those issues may mean the unraveling of an agreement intended to stave off a confrontation with Iran at a crucial meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog organization, in Vienna on Nov. 25.
"They came back to the Europeans for more and the Europeans frankly said, 'No, a deal is a deal and that is that,' " a Vienna-based diplomat said.
At the November meeting, the countries that make up the leadership of the agency could decide to let the United States proceed with a still vague but serious proposal to refer Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions. Iran has consistently denied the Americans' accusations that it has a secret program to build nuclear bombs under the cover of a civilian nuclear energy program.
One outstanding issue is highly technical but considered important by the Europeans. They have demanded that Iran stop its program to convert raw uranium into uranium tetrafluoride. Uranium tetrafluoride is a precursor to the form of uranium that is fed into centrifuges to enrich it for use as fuel that can be used either for peaceful purposes or to develop nuclear weapons, European officials said.
That demand goes beyond what the United Nations' watchdog agency requires, and the Iranians are arguing that they are being asked to do too much.
Another Iranian demand, so far rejected by the Europeans, is the timing of the delivery of some rewards for Iran, including the resumption of talks on a trade agreement between the European Union and Iran, the officials said.
Iran is also seeking precise assurances about a European offer to supply Iran with a light-water research reactor that would produce less fissionable material than could be used for making nuclear weapons, the Vienna-based diplomat added.
Iran wants the rewards up front as a "confidence-building measure," arguing that France, Germany and Britain failed to deliver the rewards it promised after Iran agreed in Tehran in October 2003 to suspend its production of enriched uranium.
A decision for Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium is an extremely delicate political matter in Iran. The October 2003 agreement was excoriated by hard-line politicians and newspapers as proof that Iran was caving in to the Western demands and forfeiting its sovereign right to develop a peaceful nuclear program.
Iranian presidential elections are scheduled for May, and the nuclear issue is likely to play a large role in what is expected to be a brutal political campaign.
Not to be contrary, but what happened to the revolution you said was a done deal several months back?
Quoting Western intelligence sources, the report said Iran achieved missile engine production capability last year.
The unidentified sources said the capability has paved the way for Iran to begin serial production of the Shihab-3, with a range of up to 1,055 miles (1,700 kilometers).
"Iran has obtained the expertise and equipment to produce variants of North Korean engines for the Shihab-3," a senior Western intelligence analyst said. "Teheran has sought this capability for a long time and we believe they have achieved it."
Until 2003, Iran relied on North Korea to supply engines for the Shihab-3, the report said.
Iran's Rafsanjani cautions EUs over nuke deal
Wednesday, November 10, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 10 (IranMania) - A top Iranian regime official has warned Britain, France and Germany that the Islamic republic could harden its stance if they failed to show flexibility in a crucial stage of talks over a nuclear stand-off, press reports said Tuesday.
"If the Europeans are rational, we can make some assurances... but if they put their foot down, then our attitude will change," powerful former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was quoted as saying by the Hamshahri newspaper.
An Iranian negotiator, Hossein Moussavian, announced Sunday that Iran and the European Union have reached a "preliminary agreement" on easing concerns over the Islamic republic's nuclear programme following two days of crucial negotiations in Paris.
The accord is centered on demands that Iran maintain and widen a suspension of its sensitive uranium enrichment activities or else risk being referred by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
According to European diplomats, the tentative deal still contains several sticking points -- including the length and extent of any halt on fuel cycle work.
"This technology has been achieved by our people by our own means, and others cannot put an end to it," said Rafsanjani, who now heads Iran's top political arbitration body the Expediency Council.
The United States accuses Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and wants the IAEA's board, which meets in Vienna on November 25, to send the matter to New York. Iran says it only wants to generate electricity.
The 25-nation EU, led by Britain, France and Germany, has so far, in talks that started in October, said Iran must indefinitely and fully suspend uranium enrichment activities, but Iran insists its right to enrichment cannot be called into question.
Enriched uranium, depending on its purity, can be used as fuel for a civilian power reactor or as the core of a nuclear weapon. Enrichment for peaceful purposes is allowed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iran is a signatory.
The IAEA is apparently holding up publication of a report on Iran until next week in order to have an eventual EU-Iranian agreement included in the text, a key document for the November 25 meeting, diplomats said.
Lecturer: Iran needs nukes
Professor says Tehran made huge mistake signing global treaty
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
An Iranian college lecturer has told a conference in Tehran the nation needs an atomic bomb and that leaders made a huge mistake by signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of NPT.
According to the Iranian Labour News Agency, the speaker, professor Abumohammad Asgarkhani, told the conference: "We are in need of atomic bombs and so far we have neglected this subject."
According to the report, the conference, entitled "Nuclear Issues and National Security," was organized by the Islamic Association of Tehran University and Tehran University of Medical Science.
Asgarkhani, a professor of international relations, predicted Iran's reticence to more quickly develop nukes will cost the citizens of the nation dearly.
"There are a few shameful treaties in Iran's history, and [the endorsing of] the Additional Protocol [to the NPT] is one of them," he is quoted as saying, "more shameful than the  Torkmanchai Treaty [with Russia] and the  Algiers Agreement [with Iraq], and only the people of Iran will face its consequences, the first of which will be the change of regime in Iran and the second one, the tearing of Iran into pieces."
Asgarkhani slammed the NPT, saying Iran has been shortchanged.
"The NPT has divided the world into two groups, the haves and the have-nots," he said. "Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have joined the haves, but we are still part of the have-nots. We are always on the train that takes the haves to any destination they wish to go."
Referring to requirements Iran currently must meet, the lecturer said, "We have made many commitments without receiving anything from them [Europe and the U.S.], and accordingly, with a 48-hour notice, they can inspect Iran's most secret places."
Asgarkhani then explains how he believes the current Muslim regime could lose power.
"When the September 11 [incident] happened, we went through three phases. The first phase was the attack on Afghanistan and the second one on Iraq. About 18 months prior to this attack, I said that the regime change in Iraq was inevitable and my predictions came true. As regards the Islamic republic [of Iran], they want to frighten the regime and then disarm it, the consequence of which will be the erosion of the regime's legitimacy inside the country."
BAGHDAD: Iraqi health officials are worried about a surge of drug addicts in Iraq and accuse neighbouring countries such as Iran of supplying narcotics through the countrys porous borders.
There are no accurate figures on the extent of the problem, but it is definitely serious, admitted Iraqs interim Health Minister Alaeddin Abdul Sahib Adwan.
According to the information that we have received, the problem of drug abuse is becoming endemic in Iraq, particularly among teenagers and the young, he told a news conference in Baghdad on Tuesday.
Iraq is surrounded by countries that have a history of producing and commercialising illegal drugs, such as Afghanistan, Iran and certain Gulf states, where at the moment the borders are badly guarded, he said.
The known number of declared drug addicts in Iraq is 2,029, with most of them concentrated in the south and the centre, said a health ministry official dealing with the fight against drugs, Siruane Kamel.
There are 286 registered addicts in the southern province of Maysan who receive treatment at clinics, while some five percent of the provinces population use drugs, the officials said.
In the central province of Karbala, there are 679 drug adicts who are registed at clinics and four of them have died, he noted. Kamel blamed the Iranians who make drugs to be used by pilgrims in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. afp
Borrowing Carson's old Tea-Time Movie bit:
''Our next movie features Alice Faye, Fay Wray, Turhan Bey, Khamenei, and Scratch the Wonder Crab in ''No Nukes is Good News'', with the B-2 Bomber Boys singing 'Sh-Boom!'.''
Reporters Without Borders welcomed an announcement by justice spokesman Jamal Karimi-Rad that nine people accused of links to reformist websites have been released in recent weeks, but regretted that seven journalists remain in prison in the same case.
"This gesture from the Iranian authorities does not mean they are easing up on their crackdown against online publications," said the worldwide press freedom organisation. "We fear that this apparent leniency may only be a smoke-screen to allow sentencing of the cyberjournalists. We repeat our call for them to be released."
The Iranian authorities have arrested around 20 people since September 2004, all suspected of contributing to news websites. Among them were people accused of being involved in technical management of sites, along with seven professional journalists accused of posting articles on the reformist sites.
These were: Javad Gholam Tamayomi, Omid Memarian, Shahram Rafihzadeh, Hanif Mazroi, Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Fershteh Ghazi.
None of the journalists has so far been released. However Judge Jafar Saberi Zafarghandi was quoted by the official student press agency SNA as saying that Hanif Mazroi could be freed within few a few days on bail of 150-million rials (13,000 euros).
According to information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, some of the journalists have been tortured and are believed to be psychologically weakened as a result. Under pressure from the authorities, Omid Memarian was forced to refuse the help of the lawyer Nemat Ahmadi.
Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, editor of Ferzaneh, a magazine dealing with the condition of women, was arrested on 1st November.
Fershteh Ghazi, another journalist activist for women's rights was imprisoned on 28 October.
Javad Gholam Tamayomi, a journalist on the daily Mardomsalari (Democracy) was arrested on 18 October.
Omid Memarian, journalist and weblog creator, was arrested on 10 October.
Shahram Rafihzadeh, cultural editor of the daily Etemad, was arrested on 7 September.
Hanif Mazroi, former journalist on several reformist press publications, was arrested on 8 September.
Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi, former political editor of Etemad, was arrested at his home on 27 September.
November 10, 2004, 4:20 p.m.
Mohammed B., the man accused of killing Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam last week, was born and bred in the Netherlands, "known as a relaxed, friendly and intelligent young man," a good student, a volunteer social worker, and a serious student of Information Technology. He came from a close family, and the death of his mother three years ago hit him very hard. He began to devote more time to religious studies, and in the last year became increasingly fanatic. He abandoned his social work because he refused to serve alcohol, and because the foundation where he volunteered organized events where both sexes were present. He was on welfare when he killed van Gogh.
We have seen this sort before; Mohammed B. is the Dutch-Moroccan version of the British-Pakistani killer of Daniel Pearl. Both came from good families that had to all appearances successfully assimilated into Western society. Both were well educated and upwardly mobile. Both had money and opportunity. Neither suffered unusual discrimination. Both lived in politically correct, meticulously tolerant societies that permitted no intrusion on their private lives. There was no apparent reason, either psychological or sociological, why either should have become a killer. Yet each freely chose freely chose to become a terrorist.
Each also chose to perform a ritual murder. Both beheaded (or, in the van Gogh killing, all-but-beheaded) their victims. This has long been a trademark of radical Islamist terrorists, whose videos of beheadings were used recruit new jihadists to their ranks long before they were broadcast around the world. The recruits join the jihad precisely because they want to behead the infidels and crusaders who are the objects of their hatred. Mohammed B. added a macabre twist: he left a message of hatred for Jews, Christians, Europeans and Americans impaled to van Gogh's chest with the murder weapon, a bloody dagger.
Mohammed B. was no lone wolf; within a few days, Dutch police had arrested seven other members of what they claimed was a terrorist group, and Spanish authorities said they believed the order for the ritual murder had come from terrorist leaders in their country. If that is correct, the van Gogh slaughter wasn't merely the result of local circumstances, but rather the product of a continental network of like-minded fanatics.
As the outstanding Italian journalist Magdi Allam sadly noted in the Corriere della Sera a few days after the event, the murder of van Gogh probably marked the end of Europe's multicultural utopian dream, because it forces politically correct Europeans to face an identity crisis that is eerily symmetrical with the same sort of crisis that has been afflicting Muslims for the past 30 years. Both were provoked by Western victories: The humiliation of Arab armies by Israel in 1967, and the defeat and dissolution of the Soviet Empire.
The Six-Day War and the ensuing collapse of the dream of a pan-Arab empire catalyzed a resurgence of fundamentalist Islam and its intense intolerance of social, religious and political freedoms. In Allam's neat formulation, al Qaeda represents the privatization and globalization of Islamic terrorism in its crudest and most hateful form. Yet it appeals to many Muslims, including some living and even born in the West, because they find it spiritually fulfilling, and also because there is no spiritual force in Europe capable of challenging it.
As things stand, the Europeans are so enthralled by cultural relativism and political correctness that they are totally unwilling to challenge any idea, even the jihadists' program of creating a theocratic state within Western civil society. The terrorist groups consider themselves autonomous, a community of believers opposed to the broader community of unbelievers and apostates.
The killing of Theo van Gogh is a textbook case of what happens when a tolerant but confused society takes political correctness to its illogical extreme. For Mohammed B. did not choose terrorism all by himself. He was indoctrinated and recruited in a mosque where he was pumped full of the Wahabbi doctrine "predominant in Saudi Arabia." The murder of van Gogh was an instant replay of the many murders carried out by Zarqawi and his followers in Iraq, extolled by fanatical Muslim Imams. As Allam reminds us, not all mosques are fundamentalist, extremist, or terrorist, but all the fundamentalists, extremists, and terrorists got that way in mosques.
The Dutch like every other European society I know were unwilling to recognize that they had potentially lethal enemies within, and that it was necessary to impose the rules of civil behavior on everyone within their domain. The rules of political correctness made it impossible even to criticize the jihadists, never mind compel them to observe the rules of civil society. Just look at what happened the next day: An artist in Rotterdam improvised a wall fresco that consisted of an angel and the words "Thou Shalt Not Kill." The local imam protested, and local authorities removed the fresco.
That's what happens when a culture is relativized to the point of suicide. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once remarked of an American politician, "he can longer distinguish between our friends and our enemies, and so he has ended by adopting our enemies' view of the world." This has now befallen Europe, which cannot distinguish between free societies their natural friends like the United States and Israel, and has ended by embracing enemies such as the radical Islamist regimes and elevating Yasser Arafat to near beatific stature.
The process by which the Europeans arrived at this grave impasse has been going on ever since the late 19th century, when the intelligentsia revolted against "bourgeois society" and its values, and sought for deeper meaning in acts of nihilistic violence, in fascism and communism, and in vast wars that engulfed the rest of the world. The Europeans might have confronted their spiritual crisis after the Second World War (some brave souls, like Albert Camus, tried), but the Cold War tamped it down. With a huge enemy on their borders, the Europeans finessed the issue, opted for a soulless materialism (that has given them a nanny state and a birth rate that promises to extinguish them in relatively short order), and pretended that the core of Western civilization was irrelevant to their lives.
When the Cold War ended, the crisis was still there, but they projected it onto us. The United States "needed an enemy," they scoffed, because otherwise we could not define our mission. But they were the ones who had lost their enemy, and thus had to face their own terrible contradictions and moral failures. Now they deride us because of our presumed archaic faith. They even equate American religion with the fundamentalism that now menaces them inside their model cities and threatens their enormously self-satisfied secular utopia.
Holland is now in the grips of violent reaction. Mosques and religious schools are firebombed. Emergency legislation granting new intrusive powers to security services has been enabled. The Dutch are groping for a "solution," but they are still ducking the real problem, which, to their consternation, we are dealing with more effectively and far more self-confidently. "The multicultural crisis," Magdi Allam wisely reminds us, "should teach us that only a West with a strong religious, cultural and moral identity can challenge and open itself to the 'others' in a constructive and peaceful way. And that the goal must be a system of shared values within a common identity."
JEDDAH, 9 November 2004 The turban or the hat? This is the question that Irans leaders face as they prepare for the presidential election next year.
An Interior Ministry communiqué in Tehran said yesterday that the election will be held on May 13, 2005, signaling the start of a long campaign.
The turban or the hat question is not fanciful.
The turban represents the Shiite clergy that, ever since its creation in Iran almost four centuries ago, has had an ambivalent attitude toward the exercise of political power. The hat is the symbol of Irans Westernized elites that started securing a power base in the middle of he 19th century and ended up by dominating the government from the first decade of the 20th century until the mullas seized power in 1979.
During the 1978-79 revolution the people of the hat, known as the mukalla cooperated with the people of the turban, known as the muamam, to drive out the Shah and grab power for themselves.
The arrangement worked for a while as the people of the turban allowed the people of the hat to fill major positions of power, including those of the president of the Islamic republic and the premiership. The people of the turban stayed in the shadows or, at most, assigned middling positions in government. Gradually, they realized that running a government is no big deal. Famously, Khomeini declared that even a donkey could be a minister, prime minister or president of the republic, provided its loyalty to the revolution was not in doubt.
Within a year the people of the turban, who had tasted power and liked it, decided to reverse the arrangement to have all the big jobs, leaving the crumbs for the people of the hat.
For years now the people of the turban have held key positions such as president of the republic, chief justice, minister of security and intelligence, minister of the interior, speaker of the Islamic Majlis (Parliament), minister of justice, and minister of culture and guidance.
At the same time the muamam also head other key institutions such as the Council of the Guardians of the Revolution, The Discernment Council, the Assembly of Experts, the High Council of National Defense, and many others.
Turbaned heads are also present in every government department at national and provincial levels. In the provinces turbaned heads act as a counter-force to the hat-wearing governors appointed from Tehran.
Last but not least, the position of the Supreme Guide or Faqih Al-Wali (the Theologian Jurisconsult) is reserved for a turbaned head, although, theoretically at least, a hat-wearer could also fill it.
So, why is the turban-or-hat debate revived at this point?
There are at least three reasons.
The first is that the ruling mullas hate being called mullas, a term that reminds the rest of the world of the Afghan Taleban and Mulla Muhammad Omar. Irans ruling mullas prefer to be seen as Third World revolutionaries, fighting imperialism, and, one day hopefully, wiping Israel off the map, rather than forcing women into burqa or measuring the length of mens beards as did the Taleban.
Many within the ruling establishment believe that it is time to allow a hat-wearer to act as president of the republic, thus helping change the image of the regime as one dominated by the mullas. In any case, under the Khomeinist constitution, the president of the republic holds virtually no power of his own, and could be dismissed by the Supreme Guide who is the real head of state with powers that no other ruler has anywhere in the world.
In fact, the president of the Islamic Republic is a sort of prime minister who is directly elected by the people but can exercise no power without the permission of other mulla-dominated institutions. Thus changing the regimes image by electing a hat-wearer, as president would in no way undermine the real hold that the revolutionary mullas have on power.
The second reason for the debate to come up at this time is that many Shiite clerics are seriously concerned about the negative impact of clerical rule on Iranians view of Shiism, indeed of Islam itself. Their argument is that people may project any anger generated by political or economic failures onto religion. A hat-wearing president could act as a kind of human shield, taking the flak for the governments failure.
The third, and perhaps the most important, reason is that a strong segment of the revolutionary establishment consists of hat-wearers who are beginning to feel frustrated at the prospect of never getting any of the big jobs.
These are people who joined the revolution in their teens, took the American diplomats hostage, manned the firing squads against the enemies of the revolution, and fought in the Iran-Iraq war. Many of them have improved their credentials by marrying into clerical families. And, yet, because they are not mullas, have no hope of reaching the highest rungs of the ladder.
The establishment is clearly divided as to whether to stay with the turban or try the hat next time round.
The incumbent President Muhammad Khatami is out of the race because he is not allowed to stand for a third consecutive term. In any case, having disappointed the reformist movement while antagonizing the hard-liners, he has virtually no support base. Attempts by some of Khatamis friends to persuade Mahdi Karrubi, a mid-ranking mulla, to stand fizzled out last month when he announced he didnt want the job.
The party of the turban has two leading candidates.
One is Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a mulla-cum-businessman who served as president for two terms between 1989 and 1997. Many regard Rafsanjani, aged 71, as the regimes real strongman. And, thanks to his immense personal fortune and vast network of business associates, he certainly has a power base.
Rafsanjani, however, has two problems. The first is that he is, perhaps, the most unpopular figure within the establishment. His unpopularity was such that he failed to secure a seat in the Majlis elections just two years ago. This may or may not be just, but even committed Khomeinists admit that the return of Rafsanjani to the presidency would do more harm than good.
Rafsanjanis second problem is even bigger. The Supreme Guide Ali Husseini Khamenei is almost certainly opposed to Rafsanjanis return to the presidency. The two men have been friends for 30 years, and it is quite possible that Khamenei owes his present position to Rafsanjanis clever and speedy maneuvering on his behalf in 1989 in the wake of Khomeinis death. What is certain is that if Rafsanjani returns as president his stature, clout and personal network could diminish the dominant position that Khamenei has won for himself in the past eight years.
The second mulla who has already thrown his turban into the ring is 63-year-old Hassan Rouhani, a mid-ranking cleric who has impressed the European governments by his negotiating skills during the tortuous talks concerning Irans alleged nuclear weapons program. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has described Rouhani as a capable diplomat, and a man we could do business with.
For the past decade Rouhani has been secretary-general of the all-powerful High Council of National Defense and thus close to the military and intelligence services. If the mullas wish to keep a tight control on all aspects of Irans nuclear program, Rouhani should be their man.
According to the buzz in Tehran circles, Khamenei is tilting toward the hat solution. Having a hat as president would represent no threat to his clerical status within the regime. At the same time it would present a better image of the Islamic Republic abroad while throwing a sop at Irans sulking middle classes who feel shut out of power.
Again according to unverifiable reports, Khamenei would like the post to go to Ali-Akbar Velayati, his current adviser on foreign policy. Velayati, who served as foreign minister for almost 17 years, is deeply loyal to the Supreme Guide. At the same time because he has no power base of his own he is unlikely to cast a shadow on Khameneis authority.
Nevertheless, Velayati, aged 65, has one problem: He is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by a Berlin Criminal Court on suspicion of involvement in murdering four Iranian Kurdish dissidents there in 1992. Another hat that maybe thrown into the ring, if Velayatis is discarded, belongs to Ali Larijani, the former head of the state-owned radio and television network and the establishments chief propagandist for more than 10 years.
Khamenei may well decide to let the powerful bazaar have the presidency this time. In that case, Habib-Allah Asgar Owladi-Mussulman may emerge as a hat-wearing candidate. Owladi-Mussulman, aged 70, is a key figure in the so-called Islamic Coalition of some 70 Khomeinist groups with large business and political networks.
The pro-reform coalition that swept Khatami into the presidency almost eight years ago has all but evaporated. Attempts at encouraging former Prime Minister Mir-Hussein Mussavi Khamenei to stand as a hat-wearing candidate collapsed two months ago when he made it clear he would not seek any office as long as the present constitution remained in force.
There was then some talk of Khatamis younger brother, Muhammad-Reza, to become a candidate. But that did not get anywhere when the Council of Guardians made it clear that his candidacy would be vetoed.
Currently, the remnants of the Khatamist movement are pinning their hopes on Mostafa Moin, a lackluster former minister of education with no base and even less name recognition.
Hat or turban, one thing is certain: Whoever wins the presidency next year will be firmly in the camp of the hard-liners. The Islamic Republic has decided that this is not the time for playing with political reform, and that the Chinese model of economic opening and strict political control is the best, at least for the foreseeable future.
Two Iranian women work at an internet cafe in Tehran. Iran is cracking down on Internet communications, one of the country's last forums for free speech and a crucial tool for local social activists, Human Rights Watch said.(AFP/File/Henghameh Fahimi)
A Shahab-3 missile on display during a military parade in Tehran. Iran is capable of mass-producing the Shahab-3, a ballistic missile capable of hitting Israel, defence minister Ali Shamkhani said.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)
PARIS, November 10 (Itar-Tass) -- New differences manifested themselves at the consultations between the troika of the European Union and Iran on Tehrans nuclear programme. Informed diplomatic circles report that Tehran continues to insist on its right to uranium enrichment for the countrys emerging nuclear power industry.
The Europeans are against Iran engaging in uranium enrichment altogether, and the sides are not prepared to change their positions now, said an informed source participating in the preparation now under way in Vienna for a meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Complicated talks of the EU troika France, Germany and Great Britain with Iran were conducted past Friday and Saturday in Paris. They were concluded in the adoption of the preliminary interim agreement that is now considered by the leaders of the troika and the Iranian leaders.
Tass has the information that Tehran voluntarily assumed the obligation to suspend the implementation of the uranium enrichment programme for the time of the further negotiations that must be crowned with the coordination of the new broad framework agreement.
The troika has now begun the consultations with Tehran on the terms of the framework agreement, which, in the troikas opinion, must include Irans complete refusal from uranium enrichment. In return for this, Great Britain proposed to build on the basis of its technology a nuclear power station in Irans territory and to guarantee the supply of nuclear fuel for it.
The Iranian leaders, in their turn, stated that their country cannot develop its nuclear energy and be fully dependent on the supplies of nuclear fuel from abroad, Moreover, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Tehran is a signatory, permits uranium enrichment to it, but not to the weapon-grade stage.
Tehran threatened on Wednesday that if there were excessive pressure on it from the West it might quit the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the way North Korea did recently.
The United States is sceptical of the preliminary Paris agreements of the troika and Iran and continues to believe that Tehrans real aim is to have nuclear weapons.
11 November 2004
Iran heading towards conflict
The risk of a confrontation between Iran and the international community is set to escalate as it becomes likely that the Islamic Republic will soon possess its own nuclear weapon. JID's nuclear expert reviews the evidence and warns of a hardening attitude in Washington.
Back in September 2004, the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) reported that Iran was intending to convert 37 tonnes of milled uranium oxide ('yellowcake') into uranium hexafluoride, the 'feed' material for centrifuges that gets made into highly enriched uranium (HEU). This is viewed to be too small a quantity for a civilian programme but would provide enough material for around five nuclear weapons.
In undertaking the yellowcake conversion, Iran is going further in breaching the arrangement it made with the EU in October 2003 when it announced that it would suspend enrichment activities, shortly after which it decided to resume assembling centrifuges. Amid calls by the US to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, the EU member states have opted to allow Iran a final opportunity to come to a negotiated solution before supporting Washington's demands for tough sanctions.
The IAEA's resolution called on Iran to suspend all enrichment-related activities immediately and reconsider its decision to construct a heavy-water research reactor at Arak. Tehran has insisted that the Arak reactor would be used solely for research and the production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial purposes. Experts point out that such a reactor would also provide the means to produce plutonium without the need to enrich uranium.
In June 2004, Iran cut the IAEA seals on its existing centrifuge components and began assembling centrifuges from existing component stock. Other outstanding issues involve the origin of uranium contamination found at various locations; the completeness of Iran's declaration about the acquisition of advanced P2 gas centrifuges; establishing that undeclared enrichment has not taken place at other locations and confirming that no undeclared HEU has already been imported.
Filed at 8:45 a.m. ET
VIENNA/TEHRAN (Reuters) - A senior Iranian official said on Thursday he was optimistic Iran would halt its uranium enrichment program as Europe demands, in a move aimed at easing fears that Iran is secretly developing atomic weapons.
``I am optimistic about a positive answer from Tehran to the Paris agreement,'' said Hossein Mousavian, secretary of the foreign policy committee of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.
``In the next few hours I will inform the three EU ambassadors in Tehran of Iran's response,'' he told Reuters, referring to the ambassadors of Britain, Germany and France which have conducted the EU talks in Paris with Iran.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agencywas awaiting a letter from Tehran informing the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog of the starting date and scope of the suspension of uranium enrichment.
Enrichment is a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants or in weapons.
The EU's ``big three'' states reached a tentative deal with Iran in Paris last weekend under which Iran would halt enrichment in return for political and economic incentives.
Not all details of the agreement were worked out in Paris and the two sides were trying to clarify some aspects of the deal, diplomats familiar with the talks told Reuters.
The Iranians have been pushing for something tangible up front, not just promises of future ``carrots,'' they said.
``Iran wants something up front if it's going to suspend enrichment, not just promises. But the Europeans have refused,'' a diplomat said.
The Europeans have promised Iran a light-water nuclear reactor, which would be more difficult to use for weapons activity than heavy-water reactors. They have also agreed to open trade talks with the EU and thaw political relations.
The EU-Iran arrangement is similar to a deal the United States worked out with North Korea in the early 1990s, exchanging heavy-water for light-water technology while the IAEA supervised a freeze of its nuclear program.
But diplomats said French and German companies told their governments they would not be interested in supplying Iran with a reactor in case it harmed business with the United States.
U.S. SAYS IRAN WANTS ATOM BOMB
Washington, which says Iran's nuclear energy program is a front for developing a bomb, wants Iran reported to the U.N. Security Council for concealing its uranium enrichment program from the IAEA for nearly two decades.
Oil-rich Iran denies wanting nuclear technology for anything besides power generation.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told Germany's parliament the talks with Iran were ``anything but easy.''
``Only the full and lasting suspension of enrichment activities ... by Iran can open the way for results-oriented talks on long-term cooperation,'' Fischer said.
One diplomat said time was running out to accept the deal, which would mean Iran escaping referral to the Security Council when the IAEA board of governors meets on Nov. 25.
If Iran rejects the deal, it will most likely be referred to the Security Council this month, diplomats say.
One of the sticking points in the talks with Iran concerns the preparation of uranium for the enrichment process. The Europeans want all uranium conversion activities halted, while Tehran wants to continue with some conversion work.
VIENNA/TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has failed to give a definitive answer to an EU demand it freeze sensitive nuclear activities or face referral to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, a diplomat familiar with the talks says.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the EU diplomat said on Thursday that Tehran's response to a tentative agreement hammered out with the EU in Paris last weekend, while "not too disappointing" had not produced the clear and final answer the EU had wanted.
The diplomat declined to comment further on the contents of the Iranian answer, which he said was now being studied in the capitals of Britain, Germany and France after being handed to their ambassadors at a meeting in Tehran.
The EU has said it will back U.S. calls for Iran to be reported to the Security Council if it does not suspend potentially weapons-related activities such as uranium enrichment before the next board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on November 25.
A Western diplomat close to the IAEA confirmed Iran had not delivered a letter, as it must, to announce the start date for the suspension and invite the UN agency to verify it.
The EU and IAEA had urged Iran to announce the suspension by Thursday for it to be incorporated into the latest IAEA report on Iran which had been due to be circulated to board members on Friday.
British officials had also hoped Prime Minister Tony Blair would be able to present Iran's nuclear agreement to U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday when he becomes the first world leader to visit Bush since his re-election last week.
LOOKING FOR SWEETNERS
Washington says Iran's nuclear energy programme is a front for developing a bomb and has given lukewarm backing to the EU initiative to engage with Iran over the nuclear standoff.
Oil-rich Iran denies wanting nuclear technology for anything besides power generation.
Hossein Mousavian, one of Iran's top security officials and a member of the Iranian delegation which has negotiated with the EU, told Reuters earlier on Thursday he was optimistic Iran's leadership would accept the deal.
But diplomats have said Iran was looking for the EU to sweeten the agreement by offering swift incentives, such as the immediate resumption of stalled trade talks, in return for agreeing to the enrichment freeze.
"Iran wants something up front if it's going to suspend enrichment, not just promises. But the Europeans have refused," a diplomat said.
Another sticking point in the talks concerns the preparation of uranium for the enrichment process. The EU wants all uranium conversion activities halted, while Tehran wants to continue with some conversion work.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told Germany's parliament the talks with Iran were "anything but easy".
"Only the full and lasting suspension of enrichment activities ... by Iran can open the way for results-oriented talks on long-term cooperation," Fischer said.