New York Times: Iran declared Tuesday that it would soon resume some of the nuclear activities it had suspended during negotiations with Europe, and it used a conference here to accuse the United States and other nations of using the fear of nuclear weapons proliferation to deny peaceful nuclear technology to developing nations. New York Times
By WARREN HOGE and DAVID E. SANGER
UNITED NATIONS – Iran declared Tuesday that it would soon resume some of the nuclear activities it had suspended during negotiations with Europe, and it used a conference here to accuse the United States and other nations of using the fear of nuclear weapons proliferation to deny peaceful nuclear technology to developing nations.
The Iranian announcement, on the second day of the United Nations conference reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, was made by the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Hamid-Reza Asefi.
He stopped short of saying exactly what kind of work Iran would resume in breaking what it has termed a voluntary moratorium while it negotiated with the European Union. But he said he did not expect Iran would begin “the actual enrichment” of uranium, which can lead to production of bomb fuel.
European officials and the Bush administration have both said any breach of the moratorium would prompt a sharp response.
In Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday at a brief news conference, “There needs to be a very clear commitment from the Iranians to live up to their international obligations not to seek a nuclear weapon under the cover of civilian nuclear power.”
“We are all very clear that the international community has, as a step that it could take, referral to the Security Council,” she added, a debate that could include the imposition of economic sanctions.
In New York for the opening of the conference, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged the Bush administration and the Europeans to give Iran a far better sense of what kind of economic inducement they would be willing to offer in return for a much longer suspension of nuclear activity.
“I think in diplomacy if you offer more, you get more,” he said during a visit to the editorial board of The New York Times. “Iran is no exception. If you offer trade, technology and security, you ought to be able to get good assurances on the nuclear issue.”
Dr. ElBaradei urged the United States, which has declined to negotiate with Iran, to act much more forcefully. “I firmly believe that any grand bargain will have to involve the United States,” he said, “because on the security side, only the U.S. can do the heavy lifting.”
Iran did not repeat its threat during its formal presentation in the hall of the General Assembly, where the monthlong meeting is taking place. But the foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, told the conference that the United States and Europe were trying to keep an exclusive hold on technological advancement, and he said Iran was determined to defy that effort.
“It is unacceptable that some tend to limit the access to peaceful nuclear technology to an exclusive club of technologically advanced states under the pretext of nonproliferation,” he said.
Iran, he added, will pursue “all legal areas of nuclear technology, including enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes.”
He said the terms of the treaty permitted it to do so; the United States argues that because Iran hid much of its nuclear activity for 18 years, it could not be trusted with the technology.
In October in Paris, Iran agreed with France, Britain and Germany to freeze all enrichment of uranium and “related activities” while negotiations went forward. But Iran has complained that those talks have not included any substantive incentives, and its announcement on Tuesday seemed part of a strategy to press Europe and, by extension, the Bush administration.
Recently, Iran demanded that it be allowed to build and operate 3,000 centrifuges, which can produce low-enriched uranium to make fuel for nuclear power stations, or, unchecked, highly enriched uranium for bomb fuel.
At the conference on Monday, it became clear how far apart Iran and the United States are on the issue. Addressing the conference, Stephen G. Rademaker, an assistant secretary of state, said any solution to the impasse “must include permanent cessation of Iran’s enrichment and reprocessing efforts, as well as dismantlement of equipment facilities related to such activity.”
Mr. Rademaker’s statement was intended to focus the conference on loopholes in the 35-year-old treaty, which he accused both Iran and North Korea of exploiting. Others among the more than 180 nations here want to direct attention at compelling declared nuclear states, especially the United States, to meet their own treaty obligations to move toward disarmament. The Iranians revived that argument on Tuesday.
“The continued existence of thousands of nuclear warheads in the nuclear weapon states’ stockpile, which can destroy the entire globe many times over, are the major sources of threat to peace and security,” said Mr. Kharrazi, the foreign minister.
The United States and its allies are confronting nuclear developments on opposite sides of the world.
Iran’s program has the longer lead time; the United States says that country is not likely to have a weapon for five to seven more years, according to testimony that intelligence officials gave to Congress earlier this year. But North Korea is widely thought to possess nuclear material already for six to eight weapons, much of it manufactured after the country pulled out of the treaty in 2003 and evicted international inspectors.
Now American, Japanese and South Korean officials say North Korea may be preparing for an underground nuclear test, which would end debate about whether the research it conducted while a treaty member has yielded nuclear warheads.
Mr. Kharrazi insisted that Iran remained “eager” to provide European negotiators with guarantees of its peaceful intent, but he harshly criticized the demands being made on his country.
“This attitude is in clear violation of the letter and spirit of the treaty and destroys the fundamental balance which exists between the rights and obligations in the treaty,” he declared. He said the treaty itself affirmed that nothing in the measure should affect the “inalienable right” of all to produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Mr. Kharrazi said countries that had not signed the treaty had exploited their freedom from its restrictions to build up nuclear stockpiles that posed more serious threats to world peace.
His reference was to India, Pakistan and Israel, though Israel was the only one he mentioned by name, saying it had continually rejected bids to join the treaty and open itself up to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Nazila Fathi contributed reporting from Tehran for this article.