AFP: France on Tuesday rejected a proposal from Iran to set up a consortium to produce enriched uranium on Iranian soil as a way out of the international impasse over Tehran’s suspect nuclear programme. PARIS, Oct 3, 2006 (AFP) – France on Tuesday rejected a proposal from Iran to set up a consortium to produce enriched uranium on Iranian soil as a way out of the international impasse over Tehran’s suspect nuclear programme.
“There is a channel of dialogue with the Iranians” that must pass through EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry said.
“It’s through this channel we await a response from the Iranians on the suspension” of uranium enrichment, as demanded by the UN Security Council, spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told reporters.
He said the Iranian proposal, made on French radio earlier Tuesday by the deputy director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammad Saeedi, was “unexpected”.
If the Iranians agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, Mattei said, “there could be place for negotiations where each side can make whatever proposals it wishes.”
The French reaction came as Solana said in Finland he was “interested” by the Iranian offer to the French, but added he needed to study the idea more closely.
Saeedi, in his interview with France Info radio, suggested the French consortium idea as a way to break a deadlock over Iran’s nuclear programme.
“To be able to reach a solution, we have just had an idea. We propose that France create a consortium for the production in Iran of enriched uranium,” he said.
“That way France, through its Eurodif and Areva companies, can monitor our activities in a tangible fashion.”
Iran ignored an August 31 deadline set by the UN Security Council for halting enrichment, and foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini on Sunday reaffirmed Tehran’s refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program after EU-Iran talks last week failed to reach any compromise.