Bloomberg: United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan plans to visit Iran in a new effort to persuade the Islamic Republic to suspend uranium enrichment, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. By Patrick Donahue and Sandrine Rastello
Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) — United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan plans to visit Iran in a new effort to persuade the Islamic Republic to suspend uranium enrichment, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
Annan will stress the importance of a European Union package of incentives offering Iran trade ties and technology in exchange for halting enrichment, Merkel said during a joint press conference with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris today. The UN Security Council gave Iran until Aug. 31 to accept the U.S.-backed plan.
“The General Secretary will visit Iran and will urge the necessity of resolution from Iran and will urge Iran to accept the offer of the international community,” Merkel said.
Iran could face international sanctions if it doesn’t comply with the UN call. While the U.S. and France said Iran’s response to the UN offer, delivered on Aug. 22, falls short of demands, China and Russia, the other permanent members of the council with the U.K., expressed caution about sanctions.
Answers in Iran’s 21-page reply “to the questions that were asked, notably on the modalities of the possible suspension of sensitive activities,” are “a bit ambiguous,” Chirac said. Merkel said it lacked a clear commitment to a halt to uranium enrichment and leaders are “carefully” examining it.
The UN in Geneva couldn’t give details of Annan’s plans. He is “likely” to go to Iran and to Syria at an unspecified date, UN spokeswoman Elena Ponomareva-Piquier said.
Iran will reveal new nuclear achievements in the very near future, Interfax reported from Tehran today, citing state media reports of statements by official government representative Golam-Hossein Ilham.
U.S. President George W. Bush spoke with Annan yesterday about Iran’s response, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, without giving details of the conversation. The spokeswoman said Iran’s response “falls short of the conditions set by the Security Council” for verifiable suspension of enrichment.
According to the plan, Russia would supply Iran with a light-water nuclear reactor in exchange for a halt to enrichment. Iran would be offered membership in the World Trade Organization and water purification, telecommunications and farm technologies.
The U.S. and several EU nations suspect Iran’s nuclear effort is aimed at building a weapon in contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory. Iran says the fuel is needed for nuclear power stations.
Yesterday, a France-based exile group, the National Council for Resistance in Iran, which seeks the overthrow of the Islamic regime, said that Iran has built at least 15 so-called P-2 centrifuges and will have more than 100 by the end of next year, enabling it to produce enough uranium for a nuclear weapon.
The group said the centrifuges are being built at a secret plant east of Tehran by a newly created company set up with employees of two companies that the International Atomic Energy Agency shut down in 2003. Building P-2 centrifuges, as well as importing some of their components such as specialized magnets, would constitute a breach of Iran’s commitments to the IAEA, the group said.