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Iran Says Nuclear Talks Still Possible

Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki (file photo) (Fars) PRAGUE, 5 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Iran says it is still ready to negotiate with the international community over its controversial nuclear program, even though it has suspended all voluntary cooperation with the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi said in Tehran on 5 February that there is still a possibility of reaching a compromise.

Asefi said Iran is ready for talks on a Russian compromise proposal under which Iranian uranium would be enriched in Russia instead of in Iran. Russia and Iran have agreed to hold further talks on the proposal on 16 February.

Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki nevertheless made it clear that Tehran is determined to stick to its right to develop nuclear energy.

"We will give our clear response to the excessive requirements of the American government [and we will show] that our nation is determined to achieve nuclear technology, which is our legal and legitimate right," Mottaki said.

Mottaki went on to say that Iran has ended its cooperation with the IAEA, including the regime of snap inspections of nuclear facilities that Tehran agreed to -- under Western pressure -- in a special protocol in 2003.

The IAEA voted on 4 February to refer Iran to the United Nations' Security Council. But the Security Council, the top UN body will take no action, until an IAEA report on Iran is delivered in March. The Security Council could possibly impose sanctions.

The only way Tehran could avoid Security Council action, U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte says, is to halt nuclear fuel enrichment and continue letting IAEA inspectors conduct snap checks.

Iran says its nuclear program is designed solely to generate electricity, not bombs as the West suspects, and claims a sovereign right to make uranium fuel on its own soil.

The IAEA Resolution

The IAEA Resolution

On 2 February, the 35-member Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency began discussing a draft resolution aimed at referring the matter of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council. The key section of the resolution is Section 1, which states that the Board of Governors:

Underlines that outstanding questions can best be resolved and confidence built in the exclusive peaceful nature of Iran's program by Iran responding positively to the calls for confidence building measures which the Board has made on Iran, and in this context deems it necessary for Iran to:

  • reestablish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and processing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the Agency;
  • reconsider the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water;
  • ratify promptly and implement in full Additional Protocol;
  • pending ratification, continue to act in accordance with the provisions of the Additional Protocol with Iran signed on 18 December 2003;
  • implement the transparency measures, as requested by the Director General, which extend beyond the former requirements of the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol, and include such access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual use equipment, certain military-owned workshops and research and development as the Agency may request in support of its ongoing investigations.

THE COMPLETE TEXT: To read the complete text of the resolution, click here.

THE COMPLETE PICTURE: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.

An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.