Iran-EU nuke deal moving forward
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
Tehran, Iran, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Iran said Sunday that a European delegation was to visit the country after the New Year holidays to discuss construction of a "research" nuclear reactor in the Islamic republic.
"A European delegation will come to Iran after the January holidays to discuss details of this issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters during a weekly news briefing.
The visit follows Iran`s agreement with the Europeans in Paris last month to suspend uranium enrichment activities in return for a package of trade, technology and security incentives, including the EU`s assistance in the construction of a light-water power reactor in Iran.
Iran is already building a heavy-water reactor at the central city of Arak. The plant could produce more fissionable material such as weapons-grade plutonium, giving rise to international concerns that the project could be used to develop nuclear weapons.
Simultaneously, the country's first nuclear power plant is under construction in the southern port city of Bushehr with Russian assistance under an $800 million deal. The controversial project is planned to come on stream in early 2006 at the latest, according to comments by Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev on Friday.
Moscow has, so far, resisted U.S. pressure to abandon the project, saying it has the right to push ahead with the completion of the plant, but demanding at the same time that Iran return all spent fuel to Russia. However, no formal agreement on the issue has yet been reached between the two countries.
In a meeting in Moscow on Thursday with Iran's Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Safdar Husseini, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country was ready to build new nuclear power plants for Iran, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Referring to recent talks between Iran and the E3 -- Britain, France and Germany -- in Brussels, Asefi said Iran and the Europeans held their first nuclear committee session on Friday and discussed their "peaceful nuclear cooperation" as well as "tangible guarantees" on the implementation of their agreements.
"Preliminary discussions were held concerning the equipment used in the Bushehr power plant and other nuclear facilities, and it was agreed that such negotiations would continue," he said.
"Talks were also held on tangible guarantees which (are reflected in) the principles of the safeguards and non-proliferation treaties. It was agreed that we reach an understanding on these two subjects so that both we receive our due rights and the Europeans' concerns are removed," he added.
The two sides, however, will hold their "political and security" session Tuesday, Asefi said.
Iranian officials have, at times, warned against the prolongation of talks, with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi saying earlier last week that his country had "no interest in wasting time" and was trying to "assess the talks trend after three months to see if negotiations could guarantee Iran's right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes."
Iran has also been invited for the first time to a session of the 25-member club of the countries mastering the nuclear-fuel cycle, according to a quote from Asefi by the news agency IRNA.
Tehran insists its nuclear program is solely aimed at power generation, strongly rejecting U.S. claims that the program is a front to build atomic bombs.
Uranium enrichment is allowed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory, and the country wants it as part of its efforts to master a nuclear fuel cycle.
The EU incentives reportedly include a guaranteed supply of reactor fuel and a resumption of stalled trade talks.
Several rounds of talks on a mutual trade and cooperation agreement had been held between the two sides before Iran`s nuclear issue was catapulted into the center of their talks.
The EU-Iran talks began after the reformist President Mohammad Khatami came to power in May 1997, with the EU taking up a policy of "comprehensive dialogue" with the Islamic republic in the form of biannual Troika meetings on political and economic issues.
The political part of the dialogue covers issues regarding conflicts, including in the Middle East, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human rights and terrorism.
On the economic front, the European Union is exploring possibilities for cooperation with Iran in energy, trade and investment as well as refugees and drugs control.
The EU is Iran`s biggest trading partner, with oil accounting for over 80 percent of Tehran`s exports to the Union. Iran also sells agricultural products -- mainly pistachios -- as well as textiles and carpets to the EU.
Thanks Dr.Zin. I get a chuckle out of these reports. Iran is developing nuclear weapons and we're supposed to be shocked that Israel has spy teams on the case. Yeah, this is breaking news. Note to Iran, you boys are about to get your lunch handed to you. I guess that will be a surprise too.
Iran Shows Persian Gulf Historical Maps
ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran unveiled a collection of historical maps on Sunday in a bid to prove the legitimacy of calling its neighboring sea the Persian Gulf instead of the "Arabian Gulf" as it also is listed in the new world atlas by National Geographic.
Last month, Iran banned the sale of National Geographic Society publications to protest the "Arabian Gulf" inclusion. The issue also has caused widespread protests by intellectuals, historians, students across Iran, formerly Persia.
Identification of the Gulf region and various parts within it has long been a sensitive topic for Iran, which believes that there has been a pan-Arabist campaign since the 1950s - led by late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and followed by deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein - to call the sea the "Arabian Gulf."
Iran considers use of that term an affront to its sovereignty.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, who inaugurated the exhibition of ancient and historical maps Sunday, said the name of the Persian Gulf cannot be changed.
"Presenting historical evidences here is merely for the sake of reiteration," Kharrazi said.
The exhibition included a 1990 atlas released by National Geographic that identifies the sea as the Persian Gulf and the islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs as owned by Iran.
In its eighth edition atlas released in October, National Geographic used the term "Arabian Gulf" alongside "Persian Gulf" and referred to the islands as "occupied" by Iran and "claimed" by the United Arab Emirates.
In a Dec. 8 statement on its Web site, National Geographic said it was aware of the sensitivities of the issue and had held "constructive and informative" discussions with individuals and organizations representing Iranian and Persian interests.
"These meetings have also given us an opportunity to affirm our long-standing position that the Persian Gulf is the historic and most commonly used name for the body of water southwest of Iran," the statement said.
It said the company was reviewing ways to further clarify notations on map products and services.
Earlier, it had defended the atlas, saying it recognized the Persian Gulf as the primary name but used the "Arabian Gulf" alongside it to make is easier for users searching for that designation.
The Tehran exhibition displayed about 100 historical maps, including a 1952 Arabic map printed in Saudi Arabia that identifies the sea as "Persian Gulf."
"As all of us are aware, the United Nations in two documents issued respectively in 1971 and 1984 has declared the Persian Gulf as the official name of the sea," Kharrazi said. Also attending the exhibition were foreign diplomats based in Tehran.
Iranian researchers and historians have launched a campaign to defend the Persian Gulf name, and youths are also collecting signatures through the Internet to support the campaign.
"Intellectuals, researchers and everybody who respects preserving historical names can't remain silent to such a clear distortion of facts. Iranian researchers are working through articles and scientific evidence to defend the name of the Persian Gulf," political analyst Davoud Hermidas Bavand said.