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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Iran Rejects Offer to End Its Nuclear Impasse - New York Times

Iran Rejects Offer to End Its Nuclear Impasse - New York TimesAugust 7, 2005
Iran Rejects Offer to End Its Nuclear Impasse
By NAZILA FATHI

TEHRAN, Aug. 6 - Iran announced Saturday that it would reject a proposal by three European countries aimed at ending the confrontation over Iran's nuclear program.

A Foreign Ministry statement announcing the decision came as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in as Iran's new president.

President Ahmadinejad's new government now faces a decision about whether to proceed with Iran's announced plan to continue with a uranium conversion process that Tehran suspended a year ago, a step that the West has said may lead to it seeking sanctions against Iran at the United Nations Security Council.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, told state radio on Saturday that the European proposal, which was drawn up by Britain, France and Germany on behalf of the European Union, was "unacceptable."

"The proposals do not meet Iran's minimum expectations," he said, adding that Iran will send its official rejection to the Europeans within days.

Britain, Germany and France, which represent Europe in their negotiations with Iran, offered a package of economic, technological, political and security incentives to Iran on Thursday in return for Iran's cooperation to ensure its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes.

The United States said Friday that it supported the European proposal. However, Western diplomats had said earlier that they expected Iran initially to reject the European plan.

Iran announced last week that it intended to remove seals the International Atomic Energy Agency had placed on its uranium conversion facilities in Isfahan, where raw uranium can be converted into gas.

Uranium enrichment is part of the process of making nuclear fuel, but at higher levels can serve in nuclear weapons. Iran voluntarily suspended the process last year while it negotiated with the Europeans about its nuclear program.

In his inauguration speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran would not give up its rights, but did not refer specifically to Iran's nuclear program.

"We want peace and justice for all and they are the integral part of our foreign policy," he said, addressing senior Iranian officials and foreign ambassadors at the ceremony. "I stress on these two principles so that countries which use the instrument of threat against our nation know that our people will never give up its right to justice."

"I don't know why some countries do not want to understand that the Iranian people will never give in to pressure," he added. "When people see such attitude, resistance grows in them and achieving a national right becomes an ideal."

European officials had said that if Iran rejected the offer, as they expected, the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog, would probably meet on Tuesday in Vienna.

Mr. Asefi, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said such a meeting would be an effort to pressure Iran.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but it has pursued a policy of concealment about the program for the past 20 years. An Iranian opposition group disclosed in 2002 that Iran had built a facility to enrich uranium in the city of Natanz.

The former Iranian government began negotiations in November 2003 with European representatives in an effort to divert the threat of United Nations sanctions and agreed to allow inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, 48, is taking office at a time of tension inside the country as well. Several bombs went off before the election in June, including one that killed 10 people in the Arab minority region of Ahwaz. Another bomb exploded outside three Western companies in northern Tehran this week and a judge was shot dead on the street.

Ethnic unrest in the western region of Kurdistan has led to the death of civilians and security forces. The government has tried to keep the unrest out of the news, but the foreign news media and Web sites have reported the events.

In the meantime, the local press has reported that Mr. Ahmadinejad has angered his conservative supporters by his refusal to yield to their choice of cabinet ministers, whom he must introduce to Parliament within two weeks.

Analysts said the recent chain of events had raised concerns among many Iranians.

"The domestic and international situation Iran is faced with has created the same shock for society that the unexpected victory of Mr. Ahmadinejad created in the election," said Hermidas Davood Bavand, a political analyst at Tehran University.

"Society is in a wait-and-see situation but there is a fear that the conservatives' foreign policies might lead the country into a crisis," he said.

Steven R. Weisman contributed reporting from Washington for this article.

1 comment:

  1. from kirazalan.net

    Iran has declared that it will resume nuclear conversion at Esfahan within one or two days. Europe has requested an emergency meeting of the IAEA to pressure Iran not to resume nuclear fuel cycle work. Israel is pressuring Ukraine to demand from Iran the 12 nuclear-capable X-55 cruise missiles that were smuggled there four years ago.

    All of this is happening as the talks with North Korea are drawing to a crucial, and so far unpredictable, end.

    So is World War III imminent? Hardly.

    Over reaction is exactly what these unlikely allies are fishing for. The coincidence of declared threats by both countries is a bit too convenient. By cranking the nuclear threat pressure simultaneously, both North Korea and Iran are hoping to walk away with the most handouts.

    ReplyDelete