Sunday, February 05, 2006
AP: Iran backs down & will negotiate nuke enrichment with Russia
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer -- Sunday, 57 minutes ago
TEHRAN, Iran -said Sunday it will hold talks with Moscow on a proposal to enrich Iranian uranium in Russia, changing tracks a day after a senior Iranian official declared the plan dead because Tehran was referred to the .
"Issue as many resolutions like this as you want and make yourself happy. You can't prevent the progress of the Iranian nation," he said in comments carried by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
"In the name of the IAEA they want to visit all our nuclear facilities and learn our defense capabilities, but we won't allow them to do this," he added.
In the past, Iran had allowed snap inspections of its facilities, including military sites.
But parliament passed a law last year requiring the government to block intrusive inspections of Iran's facilities if the country were brought before the Security Council. It also required the government to resume all suspended nuclear activities, chief among them, uranium enrichment.
"The situation has changed. Still, we will attend talks with Russia on February 16," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said at a press conference.
His comments came a day after Javad Vaeidi, deputy head of the powerful National Security Council, said there was there was "no adequate reason to pursue the Russian plan."
Vaedi spoke after thevoted to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council over fears it wants to produce nuclear arms. Iran responded by saying it would restart full-scale work on uranium enrichment and order an end to intrusive IAEA inspections of its facilities.
It was not clear if the change of course represented a major shift in Iran's strategy in the crisis over its nuclear activities. Asefi said "the door for negotiations is still open" over Iran's nuclear program.
"We don't fear the Security Council. It's not the end of the world," he added.
Russia had proposed that Iran shift its plan for large-scale enrichment of uranium to Russian territory to allay world suspicions that Iran might use the process to develop a nuclear bomb.
Uranium enriched to a low degree is used as fuel for nuclear reactors. But highly enriched uranium is suitable for making atomic bombs.
"The proposal has to conform itself with the new circumstances," Asefi said. "If the Russian proposal makes itself compatible with the new conditions, it can be negotiated."
Iran has said the Russian proposal has ambiguities that need to be clarified in talks. Iranian officials have also said Tehran would reject the proposal if it sought to prevent Iran from enriching uranium inside the country. They insist it must only be a complementary measure to Iran's nuclear program.
Asefi reiterated that Iran would cooperate with the IAEA within the framework of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the Safeguard Agreement.
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