Iran calls on EU to help release N-equipment
TEHRAN: Iran’s vice president has called on Britain, France and Germany to honour their words and help secure the release of nuclear equipment that Iran has bought.
Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who is also the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, did not say on Friday where the Iranian imports were blocked, but it is known that Iran has purchased nuclear material from EU states in the past.
“The equipment that we purchased a long time ago - and there is no legal prohibition on its use - has been held up at the factory or customs of producing countries, and permission has not been issued to export it to Iran,” Aghazadeh told state television.
When the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany visited Iran on Oct. 21, they issued a statement saying that if Iran proved its nuclear programme is only for energy production, their governments would make it easier for Iran to get nuclear technology.
In return for the undertaking, Iran pledged to sign a protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency providing for unfettered inspections of its nuclear sites and to suspend its uranium enrichment programme. Iran has suspended its enrichment programme and its government has approved the protocol, but not yet signed it.
“We met all the demands of the European ... countries. Now it is their turn to fulfill their promises,” Aghazadeh said.
“We seriously expect our European partners, who visited Iran, to help solve the problem and live up to their commitment of expanding nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes with Iran,” Aghazadeh said.
Aghazadeh said that in the past Iran had been coy about its nuclear activities because it feared difficulties in importing equipment.
“We knew if we had announced the details of our totally peaceful nuclear activities, our legitimate activities would have been hampered as it has happened now,” he said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency censured Iran last month for failing to disclose certain aspects of its nuclear programme. It adopted a resolution that warned Iran to stick to the rules in order to allay fears that its programme may be used for building of nuclear weapons.
The United States strongly suspects Iran has a secret nuclear weapons programme. Iran insists its programme is only for the production of civilian energy.
Turning to the latest developments in the programme, Aghazadeh said Iran’s uranium conversion facility in the central city of Isfahan will go on stream “in the near future.”
“We have completed installation of equipment at uranium conversion facility and fuel rod production in Isfahan, and materials will be injected into the factory in the near future based on the authorization we’ve got from the IAEA,” he said on television.
He also said Iran planned to build a 40 Megawatt heavy-water reactor in Arak, central Iran, but he did not elaborate. —AP
Govt to protect Nobel winner: Khatami
PARIS: Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was quoted on Friday as saying he had told his government to ensure that Nobel peace prize-winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi could continue her work without disruption. Khatami told French newspaper Le Monde that Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to win the prize, had in the past encountered “a few problems”. He gave no details, but Ebadi has powerful foes. Despite her status as a hate-figure among Iran’s religious hardliners - she has received death threats and was assigned a bodyguard by the government - Ebadi argues passionately that Islam is not incompatible with human rights. “I have given very firm instructions that Mrs Ebadi be allowed to continue her work in appropriate conditions,” he told the newspaper in an interview for its Saturday edition. “I have instructed the interior and information ministries to ensure she can work in full safety.” He did not specify what sort of support she would get from his government. Ebadi, who received the 2003 award on Wednesday for her work to promote the rights of children and women, flouted Iran’s dress code for women by appearing at the prize ceremony without a headscarf — a move for which Khatami chided her. —Reuters