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Fox News: Iran Welcomes Russian Enrichment Offer


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Iran Welcomes Russian Enrichment Offer

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Germany: Diplomacy Can Solve Iran Crisis

MOSCOW — Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Wednesday that the government views Russia's offer to help enrich Iran's uranium as a positive development, but no agreement has been reached between the countries.

Chief negotiator Ali Larijani also reiterated Iran's threat to renew enrichment activities if it is referred to the U.N. Security Council.

Moscow has proposed having Iran's uranium enriched in Russia then returned to Iran for use in the country's reactors — a compromise that could provide more oversight and ease tensions with the United States and European Union over Iran's nuclear program.

"Our view of this offer is positive, and we tried to bring the positions of the sides closer," Larijani said a day after talks with Russian Security Council chief Igor Ivanov, which included discussion of the plan.

"This plan can be perfected in the future, during further talks that will be held in February."

The West fears Iran wants to develop a nuclear bomb, but Tehran says its intentions are peaceful and it is seeking to generate electricity. Uranium enrichment is a possible precursor to making atomic weapons.

A British Foreign Office official, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with government policy, said foreign ministers from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — Britain, France, Russia, China and the United States — plus Germany would meet in London on Monday to discuss the next steps in the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

The meeting will take place before a donors' conference on Afghanistan.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected to use the Afghan meeting to discuss Iran's nuclear program with key nations.

The meeting comes ahead of a Feb. 2 emergency board session of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which can refer Iran to the Security Council. The council has the power to impose economic and political sanctions.

European countries believe they have enough votes to haul Iran before the council, but they are seeking support from Russia, China and key developing nations. Iran said Wednesday that Larijani will meet with Chinese officials in Beijing following talks with Russian counterparts.

On Tuesday, Larijani and Ivanov said in a joint statement that Tehran's nuclear standoff must be resolved by diplomatic efforts in the IAEA. The statement reflected Russia's efforts to delay Iran's referral to the Security Council and Moscow's opposition to international sanctions against Tehran.

Larijani said Iran would welcome talks with European countries, though an Iranian proposal to return to talks with the EU recently was rejected.

But he warned that any attempt to refer Iran to the Security Council would lead it to move forward with a full-scale uranium enrichment program.

"If they use political pressure, if our dossier is handed over or opened in an unofficial way by the Security Council ... our actions will not be limited to research," he said. "Then we will begin industrial enrichment."

Haggling has continued over the specifics of Russia's offer, including Tehran's proposal to have China involved in the Russian enrichment process.

Larijani suggested it would take some time to work out details of the proposal. Some critics allege the Iranians are using the proposal to stall for time as Western diplomatic pressure mounts.

Russian officials have said further talks on the initiative will be held in Russia around Feb. 16 — well after the IAEA session.

The plan presents Russian President Vladimir Putin with an opportunity to please the West without sacrificing ties with Iran.

Taking the idea a step further, Putin called Wednesday for the creation of an international system of facilities that would provide enrichment and other nuclear-cycle services to nations that want nuclear power. In televised comments, he said Russia could establish the prototype facility on its territory.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw urged Tehran on Tuesday to seriously consider Russia's offer in an effort to end the standoff. Straw also said in an interview with The Associated Press that he hoped the IAEA would refer the matter to the Security Council.

In Washington, Rice said that "referral absolutely has to be made" on Feb. 2, while remaining vague on what action she believed the Security Council should take, and when it should take it.

In China on Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said he warned Chinese leaders that allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons could threaten Beijing's crucial supplies of Middle Eastern oil.

China has refrained from supporting a referral to the Security Council, prompting suggestions that Beijing wants to avoid angering Iran, a major oil source for its energy-hungry economy.

Zoellick said he warned Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and other officials in meetings Tuesday that if they were concerned about energy security, it would be "extremely dangerous" to allow nuclear weapons development in the Middle East, center of the world oil industry.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,182726,00.html

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What are your thoughts on this?...I thought the Bush Administrations stance was no nuke pant at all?

-Grant

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They openly yearn for the destruction of Israel and state that the west is evil, and for some damn reason the west feel the need to meet them half way on this issue? Screw that. Any allowance is a failure to hold them accountable for their actions concerning terror.

Why has the international community become so weak and pathetic? Iran is a terrorist state and shouldn't be allowed to build a clay model of a nuclear plant let alone a function one, regardless of stated purpose. If they don’t like that, too damn bad. Should have thought about that before they decided to support terrorists.

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I am not all certain that I would have put Russia in the ally column. I would save that designation for countries like Britain.

You point about Putin is a good one.

Right? I mean, I understand Putin has a huge problem in Chechnya that he has to deal with, but if my fellow liberals over here think Bush's administration is infringing upon rights, Putin makes Bush look like an anarchist.

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