Reuters: Iran’s patience regarding Western opposition to its nuclear programme is wearing thin and Tehran will give the EU only a few months to settle the issue through talks, the country’s chief nuclear negotiator said on Sunday. By Paul Hughes and Parisa Hafezi
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s patience regarding Western opposition to its nuclear programme is wearing thin and Tehran will give the EU only a few months to settle the issue through talks, the country’s chief nuclear negotiator said on Sunday.
Ali Larijani added Iran would only accept proposals to resolve the dispute which allowed it to produce nuclear fuel on its own soil.
The West wants Tehran to scrap plans to enrich uranium at home. Iran says it will only enrich uranium to a level useable in atomic power reactors but Washington and the European Union fear it could use the same technology to make bomb-grade material.
“We’ve been in talks for years with no result,” Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told Reuters.
“We are following this case patiently but the nation’s patience has a limit,” he said.
Asked how long Iran’s patience and its commitment to a two-year-old voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment activities would last, he said:
“A few months. We have a limited time framework for talks.”
Talks between Iran and the EU trio of Britain, Germany and France will resume in the next two or three weeks, Larijani said.
The talks collapsed in August when Iran removed U.N. seals at its Isfahan nuclear facility and began processing uranium, the stage prior to uranium enrichment.
To allay concerns it may use its nuclear plants to produce arms-grade material, Iran has proposed that other countries participate in its uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.
It has also pledged to allow close monitoring of its activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
EU and Russian officials have said in recent weeks that they wanted to discuss a proposal whereby Iran would enrich uranium only in Russia under a joint venture.
IRAN WANTS RIGHTS RESPECTED
But Larijani, while insisting that no such proposal has been made to Iran, said Tehran would not forego its right as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop its own nuclear fuel activities for peaceful purposes.
“We welcome any plan under which Iran’s right to enrich uranium on its soil is respected,” he said.
“Our nation has every right to enjoy the same rights that other IAEA members enjoy. We demand the same rights,” he added.
Despite the apparent impasse over enrichment, Larijani said he was “not negative” about the upcoming talks.
“I see talks with the EU as a win-win game,” he said. “Winning for Iran means having uranium enrichment for nuclear fuel and winning for the European Union means being assured that … our nuclear programme will not become a weapons programme.
“A formula can be found to make both sides happy and satisfied,” he said, reiterating Iran’s offer to allow foreign companies to participate at Natanz.
But he urged the EU to drop threats to refer Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
“Talks under threat are meaningless,” he said.
“They should put aside slogans and stop threatening us with the Security Council … (Threatening to send Iran to) the council is a useless method now. Now it is time to solve the problem logically.”