Iran Nuclear News Iran's hardliners push ahead with uranium enrichment

Iran’s hardliners push ahead with uranium enrichment

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The Guardian: Iranian hardliners escalated the war of nerves with the west over nuclear bomb materials yesterday, introducing a fast-track bill that would pledge the regime to push ahead with uranium enrichment.
On the eve of crucial talks in Vienna today between Iran and
the EU on how to defuse the crisis, the bill also called on the … The Guardian

Ian Traynor

Iranian hardliners escalated the war of nerves with the west over nuclear bomb materials yesterday, introducing a fast-track bill that would pledge the regime to push ahead with uranium enrichment.

On the eve of crucial talks in Vienna today between Iran and the EU on how to defuse the crisis, the bill also called on the Tehran government to withdraw from an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that allows IAEA inspectors to scrutinise all aspects of its nuclear programme at short notice.

Under an IAEA resolution, Tehran has a month to freeze its uranium enrichment programme or face penalties, with the Europeans likely to join the US in reporting Iran to the UN security council.

On Monday, Tony Blair, Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, and Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, all separately declared that Iran could not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

Although Iran denies any such intentions and insists its nuclear activities are purely peaceful and civilian, it is facing intense pressure to abandon the enrichment process that delivers the fissile material for nuclear warheads.

Mr Solana is expected to join British, German, and French officials at the talks in Vienna for what could be a last chance to reach a deal before the issue goes to the security council in New York.

Western diplomats following the two-year saga say their attempts to negotiate have been dogged by conflicting signals from different factions in the Iranian regime. At the weekend, senior Tehran officials seemed to be conciliatory, suggesting uranium enrichment could be suspended indefinitely until a deal with the EU was pinned down.

Yesterday’s move by Iranian MPs contradicted that. Diplomats said the Iranians were engaged in routine tactical manoeuvres.

The Europeans, with tacit US backing, are offering the Iranians a package of trade, nuclear energy, and political incentives in return for abandoning uranium enrichment.

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