Filed at 2:25 p.m. ET
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has asked to be allowed to exclude some research and development work usable in nuclear bomb-making from a freeze on sensitive atomic projects, but EU negotiators rejected the request, diplomats said on Wednesday.
One Western diplomat said the request amounted to Iranian ``chutzpah'' before a meeting on Thursday of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is investigating whether Iran has a secret nuclear arms program.
Another said it was a clear message that Tehran had no intention of ending work on producing fuel, an activity that the United States believes will enable Iran to make nuclear arms.
The request followed an Iranian pledge to France, Britain and Germany last week that it would suspend its entire uranium enrichment program and all related activities in a bid to avoid possible economic sanctions by the U.N. Security Council.
``The Iranians asked to be allowed to continue conducting research and development with centrifuges during the freeze, but the Europeans told them, 'No','' a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
``Iran has asked to be allowed to test centrifuge rotors during the freeze,'' said another diplomat, adding this would require permission to operate several dozen centrifuges.
The freeze, which includes all centrifuge work, took effect on Monday, though Iranian officials said it would be short. Centrifuges purify uranium to fuel power plants or weapons by spinning at supersonic speeds.
NO IRANIAN COMMENT AVAILABLE
Iran's delegation to the IAEA was unavailable for comment.
The United States accuses Iran of having a secret nuclear weapons program and has threatened to press for U.N. Security Council sanctions. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is only for power generation.
Last Friday, diplomats said Iran was producing large amounts of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas, the form of uranium fed into centrifuges during the enrichment process.
The report, denied by Tehran but confirmed by the IAEA, prompted European Union diplomats to question Iran's intentions.
One diplomat said intelligence reports said Iran hoped to make it through Thursday's meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-member board and later announce plans for a cascade of centrifuges to produce bomb-grade uranium.
``They already have the parts for 1,100 to 1,200 centrifuges,'' said the diplomat, adding this number could purify enough uranium for a bomb within two years.
With nearly five months until a March session of the board, Iran could make much progress before an immediate threat of U.N. sanctions returned, he said.
France, Britain and Germany have circulated a draft IAEA resolution to be submitted to Thursday's meeting that appears to be unacceptable to most board members outside the EU.
Washington is unhappy at the lack of a ``trigger'' clause that would refer Iran's case to the U.N. Security Council if Tehran resumed any enrichment-related work.
Iran rejects what it sees as an indirect trigger in the text. The draft says it is ``essential'' Iran keep all parts of its enrichment program suspended if its case is to be resolved ``within the framework of the Agency.''
While not a direct threat of referral to the U.N. Security Council this wording hinted it could be considered, making it troublesome for some board members and Iran, diplomats said.
But Iran played down the disputes. ``Such discussions are quite normal in such a stage,'' Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told reporters in Tehran.
To shouts of ``No compromise,'' tens of thousands of Iran's Basij militia staged a show of strength before the IAEA meeting.
Wearing military fatigues and some armed with Kalashnikov rifles, members of the voluntary organization described by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as ``Iran's atomic bomb,'' also shouted ``Death to America, Death to Israel.''
The board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will learn if Iran is abiding by an agreement to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.
Iran agreed to the freeze last week in a bid to avoid referral to the United Nations Security Council.
On Wednesday, diplomats said Tehran had asked for an amendment to the terms of the deal to allow continued research.
France, Germany and Britain - the three EU countries that helped bring about the suspension - reportedly refused the request.
IAEA inspectors have spent the last few days verifying whether Iran is abiding by the suspension agreement.
The agency's chief Mohamed ElBaradei will report his findings to the 35-nation board later on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the EU three are expected to submit a draft IAEA resolution calling on Iran to "sustain the suspension" of uranium enrichment at nuclear facilities in the cities of Isfahan and Natanz.
The motion also proposes that Mr ElBaradei should "report immediately" to the agency's board if there is any evidence of incomplete suspension".
The US has led calls for the IAEA to refer Iran to the Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.
Last week, diplomats said Tehran was rushing through production of uranium hexafluoride gas - a form of uranium that is fed into centrifuges during the enrichment process - before Monday's freeze.
Tehran denounced the accusation as a "sheer lie". It has always maintained its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
Two days after the suspension came into effect, diplomats were quoted as saying that Tehran had asked that more than 24 centrifuges be exempted for "research purposes".
Centrifuges purify uranium to fuel power plants or weapons by spinning at supersonic speeds, Reuters news agency reports.
"The Iranians asked to be allowed to continue conducting research and development with centrifuges during the freeze, but the Europeans told them no," a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
EU rejects Iran's demand for exemptions from nuclear freeze deal
|www.chinaview.cn 2004-11-25 10:28:25|
VIENNA, Nov. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran has asked the UN nuclear watchdog to exempt several dozen centrifuges from a freeze on its sensitive atomic projects, but European Union negotiators rejected the request, diplomats said on Wednesday.
A diplomat close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran is "trying to convince the IAEA to leave several dozen of the centrifuges unsealed for research and development purposes."
Another diplomat said Iran's request is equal to a "chutzpah" before the IAEA convenes Thursday to determine whether Iran is fulfilling its commitment to stop all uranium enrichment and related activities, and considers possible sanctions if it isn't.
A Western diplomat believed the request is a clear message that Teheran has no intention of ending its nuclear fuel production.
A diplomat revealed on condition of anonymity that EU negotiators have rejected Iran's request.
After lengthy negotiations with France, Germany and Britain, Iran said last week it would stop all uranium enrichment-related activities in exchange for nuclear technology from Europe.
The United States has accused Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons, a charge strongly denied by Tehran, which said its nuclear plan was completely for peaceful purposes.
25 November 2004
Iran pushing for UN exemptions
VIENNA: Iran has asked the UN atomic agency to exempt several dozen centrifuges from an agreement with the European Union which went into effect two days ago freezing its nuclear fuel cycle, diplomats said yesterday. The development, which has been rejected by the EU, comes ahead of a meeting today of the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to review what was supposed to be a total freeze on uranium enrichment activities.
Under the terms of a deal hammered out with Britain, France and Germany, Tehran was to suspend all uranium enrichment activities from Monday, a move which is now being verified by the IAEA.
The Vienna IAEA talks will also decide whether Iran should be sent to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, as the United States wants, over its nuclear programme.
But a diplomat who covers the IAEA said the Iranians "are trying to convince the IAEA to leave several dozen of the centrifuges unsealed for RD (research and development) purposes in addition to other equipment which has direct use for enrichment."
A Western diplomat said it would be "outrageous" if Iran at the last minute exempted some centrifuges, the machines used in enriching uranium.
"It is not acceptable to us," a European diplomat said.
He said IAEA officials were meeting with an Iranian delegation in Vienna to point out that the Europeans insisted on a full, unequivocal suspension.
The IAEA's 35-nation board of governors will hear a European draft resolution based on the suspension agreement and which finally won US backing.
Diplomats said Washington had taken a pragmatic decision to back the European draft, even though it falls short of demanding possible UN sanctions for Iran.
The US is "just being pragmatic for once, recognising that the EU3 (Britain, Germany, France) text is pretty good and that there are few good policy alternatives to joining consensus on it," a Western diplomat said.
Iran maintains its nuclear program is strictly peaceful and the head of Iran's hardline parliament warned that deputies would press for a resumption of enrichment if the country comes under too much pressure at the IAEA meeting.
In other developments, tens of thousands of Iran's Basij militia, to shouts of "no compromise" staged a show of strength near Tehran.
The voluntary organisation, which Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently dubbed as "Iran's atomic bomb", staged a military parade south of the capital and vowed to defend their country against any foreign threat.
Wearing military fatigues and some armed with Kalashnikov rifles, the basijis hailed their commander with the customary shouts of "Death to America, Death to Israel".
"The Basij force, as the backbone of Iran's national authority... will never give in to the bullying of imperialism led by the United States," Revolutionary Guards Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi said after the parade.
"The ship of (US President George W) Bush's Middle East policy has run aground in Iraq. I don't feel any danger from them," he said in answer to a question about the possibility of a US attack on Iran.
By Aaron Klein
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
If the U.S. or Israel attacks Iran, operations would not be limited to the targeting of Tehran's suspected nuclear sites, but could also include attacks against several key military and industrial installations, the former head of Mossad's foreign intelligence told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview.
"From a hypothetical point of view, one shouldn't assume any attack would only target nuclear facilities. Other targets of significance to the Iranians could be attacked, including military bases, oil facilities and certain industrial facilities," said Uzi Arad, former director of Mossad's Intelligence Division and Chairman of Israel's prestigious Herzliya Conference.
"The Iranians shouldn't make the assumption that just because they hide a few nuclear sites they are safe. There are enough targets to exact a very heavy price on Tehran, so much so that it should render their entire nuclear exercise a losing proposition," said Arad.
Last week, the National Council for Resistance, a grass-roots Iranian organization that in the past has accurately revealed Iranian nuclear sites, announced Tehran was producing enriched uranium and testing biological and chemical warfare projects at a secret plant in northeast Iran that had not been disclosed to United Nations inspectors.
WorldNetDaily reported exclusively the site is hidden many feet below a development of luxury villas in the Iranian suburb of Nour in the Lavizan district of northeast Tehran.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said he has seen intelligence corroborating some of the Council's disclosures and that Iran may be researching the use of conventional warheads to deliver nuclear material.
Arad said the Iranians shouldn't view America's troubles in Iraq as an impediment to its ability to attack Iran.
"The Iranian planners should not make the easy assumption that Iraq will hamper America's efforts. Iraq gives the U.S. certain important tactical advantages, including a major staging base. We may be talking here mostly about an air campaign against Iran, and this kind of targeting can be mounted and staged from neighboring Iraq," said Arad.
Arad said for now America and the international community must continue to press for sanctions and other methods of intense pressure against Tehran, and suggested the Iranian regime should view Iraq as a warning.
"We saw in Iraq what happens to a country that supports terrorism and tries to obtain WMDs," he said. "Iraq should serve as an example, both from this war and during the first Gulf War, that when America acts, it brings an overwhelming force to bear. The Iranian leaders must ask themselves whether they are willing to take this very high risk gamble with their nuclear program because they might end up where Saddam is today."
Arad warned allowing Tehran to develop nuclear weapons would have serious negative consequences.
"If Iran proceeds, it will be disastrous for the world," said Arad. "It would place nuclear weapons in the hands of a hostile totalitarian regime. It would be a victory for all states that support terrorism, a clear signal to hard-liners that they can get away with such things. It would stiffen the negotiating positions on key diplomatic disputes, including the Arab-Israeli conflict. It would have a spillover effect on other countries Saudi Arabia would want such weapons. It would destabilize the Gulf region, have consequences for the world oil supply. And it would mean the total unraveling of the nonproliferation regime and the International Atomic Energy Agency's ability to be effective."
Support of Iranian opposition by the international community could be an effective way of handling the current regime, said Arad.
"The regime does not have strong domestic support. There is a great deal of resentment on the surface. Its stability can be greatly reduced by the people themselves."
Arad told WorldNetDaily the issue of Iran and other key regional issues, including Israel's Gaza withdrawal and its growing relationship with the EU and involvement in NATO, will be discussed at this years Herzliya Conference in mid-December.
The conference, in its fifth year, is known to set the tone for regional policies and has been the site of several major policy speeches by Israeli leaders. Sharon last year announced at the conference his disengagement plan, and in 2002 detailed the U.S.-backed roadmap to peace. Arad said to expect similarly important diplomatic announcements this year, as well.
November 24, 2004, updated 12:50 p.m.
Before ink dries, Iran wants exemptions
Tehran requests EU allow it to conduct nuclear tests despite recently signed agreement to forgo them.
Iran is making a new demand about its nuclear program, reports Reuters.
The Islamic republic requested on Wednesday that it be allowed to operate dozens of centrifuges "for research purposes." The process is an activity Iran agreed to ban under a uranium enrichment freeze that went into effect Monday.
Citing a Western diplomat on condition of anonymity, Reuters reports that
'Iran has asked to be allowed to test centrifuge rotors during the freeze,' said a diplomat, who added that this would require permission to operate a number of centrifuges.Centrifuges are machines that purify uranium by spinning at supersonic speeds. The finished product can be used to fuel power plants or nuclear weapons.
The Iranians want the equipment exempted from UN watchdog "seals meant to ensure the enrichment program is completely shut down," reports the Associated Press.
Tehran's move comes on the eve of a Nov. 25 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors in Vienna. The session will examine Iran's compliance with international demands meant to ease suspicions about its nuclear activities, reports EurActiv.com.
Under a draft resolution submitted by Britain, France and Germany, the IAEA should be able to monitor Iran's observance of its pledge not to enrich uranium. However, Washington considers this to be too weak. The US wants any eventual resumption of enrichment-related activities by Iran to be automatically referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.The timing of the request for an exemption fueled skepticism on Iran's motive. Iran just signed an agreement with the European Union less than a week ago. In addition, the request for an exemption comes on the heels of a statement made Wednesday by Seyev Hossein Mousavian, Iran's chief negotiator with the IAEA, reports EurActiv.
'Iran will never be prepared to completely dismantle its nuclear programme,' said Seyev Hossein Mousavian.On Monday, before Iran made its request for an exemption on the use of centrifuges, the head of the cleric-driven parliament indicated that "deputies would press for a resumption of a controversial nuclear fuel program if the country comes under too much pressure" at the forthcoming meeting of the UN atomic energy watchdog, reports Agence France-Presse(AFP).
'The parliament is expecting that the IAEA and the European Union show that they respect their commitments during the meeting of the board of governors,' Gholamali Haddad Adel told the assembly.Any backtracking on the initial agreement reenforces the US belief that Tehran is attempting to develop a nuclear weapon and could strengthen western demands of "proof" of compliance in Iranian intentions.
Mr. Mousavian, repeated the Iranian positon that Washington has "no right to make such claims." Iran maintains that "suspension will be only temporary and insists that it has the ultimate right to enrich uranium," reports AP.
Iran dismisses US assertions that it wants to use the technology to make weapons, saying it is interested only in generating nuclear power.
YaleGlobal-online, in an essay summarizing the concerns and conditions needed for an IAEA-Iranian compromise, emphasized how earlier this month US Secretary of State Colin Powell sharply reminded Europeans of the implications of a nuclear Iran when he alleged that the nuclear program was being coordinated with a missile delivery system.
To be sure, US Secretary of State Colin Powell's suggestion that Iran might be adapting a missile system to carry a nuclear warhead has grave implications. If true, these allegations, paired with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) evidence of Iran's illicit acquisition of nuclear material and technology, would prove that Iran is violating its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty commitment to develop nuclear technology solely for peaceful purposes. The Iranian nuclear issue would then almost have to be sent to the UN Security Council for enforcement action - a move that would expose rifts among the major powers, as well as the international system's relative fecklessness in dealing with the threat to international peace and security posed by proliferation.Britain, Germany, and France are expected to demand that UN nuclear inspectors be allowed to go wherever they see fit in their efforts to investigate Tehran's nuclear program, reports the Guardian.
The unprecedented demand comes in a resolution drafted by the Europeans for a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency taking place this week in Vienna. If adopted by the board, the resolution will give inspectors the kind of access rights they have enjoyed only in Iraq.Tehran has "already converted a few tons of raw uranium into the gas used as feedstock for enrichment by centrifuges," reports AP.
The conversion continued until shortly before Monday's freeze deadline, "raising doubts about Iran's interest in dispelling international concerns," says AP.
Tehran ultimately plans to run 50,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium in the central city of Natanz. Iran says the Natanz facility is meant to meet the fuel requirements of a nuclear reactor being built with Russian help that is expected to be finished next year.
THE HAGUE, November 25 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told a news conference on the results of the 14th Russia-EU summit on Thursday that Moscow welcomed Irans intention to stop the development of its own full nuclear fuel cycle technologies and was ready to continue cooperation with Teheran in the peaceful use of the atom in case the final agreements are reached.
We welcome Irans statement on abandoning the full nuclear cycle technology. The remarks of Iranian representatives on this subject need to be additionally studied, Putin emphasized.
I hope that all these problems will be closed at an expert level, President Putin went on to say.
Anyway, we think that great progress has been made to close the Iranian nuclear dossier. We are holding bilateral talks with Iran, helping it to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and intend to continue this cooperation if final agreements are reached, Putin stressed.
Commenting on the results of Ukraines presidential elections, President Putin said that he didnt think that Russia had taken a passive stance on the post-election situation in Ukraine compared to other countries, especially Western states.
I dont think that we, Russia, have taken a passive stance. Neither do I think that any foreign country should recognize or not recognize the results of presidential elections in Ukraine. Its up to the Ukrainian people. These elections dont need any outside recognition, Putin told a Russian reporter.
Everybody understands that Ukraine is in the heart of Europe and will build normal friendly relations with all the neighbours, Putin added.
At the beginning of the election race in Ukraine I said that we are ready to work with any president whom the Ukrainian people are going to elect. I telephoned Yanukovich and congratulated him after 90% of the votes were counted and the Central Electoral Commission announced the first results.
Naturally, we dont think that we have the right to meddle in the election process and impose our opinion on the Ukrainian people, Putin stressed.
The Russian president said in conclusion that he agreed with EU Foreign Policy and Security Chief Javier Solana that the unity of the Ukrainian state should be preserved.
25 November 2004
IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told reporters outside the board meeting that the issue of Iran's nuclear program was by no means closed.
"The two most important issues are as we've said for some time, to explain the contamination that we've seen on the enriched uranium particles from environmental samples, there are still some unanswered questions as to how those came to be where they were," he said. "And the other issue is the so-called P 2 centrifuge program that Iran has there's some unanswered questions about the nature and the extent of that program, particularly what happened between 1995 and 2002 and around 1995 Iran got the designs for the P2 and they say that they didn't take any action and they say they didn't do any work on the P2 until 2002. We need to see more documentation and more corroboration to support that statement, so far we haven't had enough to satisfy ourselves that there was no action taken in those years."
Mr. Gwozdecky said he hopes the 35-nation IAEA board will reach a consensus on Iran later this week.
The IAEA says its wants to do independent sampling in Pakistan to confirm the actual source of contaminated equipment in Iran. Tehran claims the contamination was already on equipment it bought on the nuclear black market.
Mr. ElBaradei said IAEA inspectors have verified Iran's suspension of its uranium enrichment program and have sealed equipment and installed cameras to monitor activities at facilities in Iran. But he said Iran has informed the IAEA it wants to continue to use around 20 centrifuge components for research and that this request was under consideration.
The request has annoyed European powers, who recently struck a deal under which Tehran would fully freeze uranium enrichment activities in exchange for nuclear technology.
The U.S. government accuses Iran of secretly working on a nuclear weapons program and is pushing for a tough resolution to censure the Islamic republic. Iran denies these charges.