REGION: EU 3 haggled hard for Iran nuclear deal: diplomats
* Iran sees no censure at key nuclear watchdog meet
* Iran’s top nuclear negotiator hopes for cooperation with India
* Blair says Iran must comply fully with IAEA
VIENNA/BRUSSELS: Intense backroom negotiations among France, Britain, Germany, Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog persuaded Tehran to agree this week to suspend all activities linked to uranium enrichment, diplomats said.
Under this deal, clinched on Monday and announced on Tuesday in the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest report on Iran, Tehran pledged to temporarily halt all major activities connected with the enrichment of uranium - including the manufacture, testing and assembly of centrifuges.
Diplomats close to the negotiations told Reuters this could open the door to an exchange of peaceful technology, which the EU’s “Big Three” in October promised Iran if it accepted snap IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities and suspended enrichment.
“It’s the beginning of mainstreaming Iran with Europe, which I think is very important,” said a senior Vienna-based official familiar with the IAEA report on Iran.
The report said Tehran would issue instructions for the implementation of the suspension by the first week of March.
An EU diplomatic source said Britain, France and Germany had indicated to Iran that it would get a positive report and the IAEA board might not even adopt any fresh resolution on Iranian compliance issues next month if it agreed to a complete halt.
“It took intensive contacts on Saturday, Sunday and Monday in particular until we got full agreement of the Iranians to a total suspension including the centrifuges,” the source said. “Monday was tight.”
Diplomats said the suspension was the main topic discussed at a secret meeting in Vienna on Saturday between IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and head of the Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rohani.
“If there had not been an agreement on total suspension, it could have moved forward to open the (UN) sanctions process. But this agreement will allow Iran not to go to the Security Council and maybe not even to have a Board of Governors resolution at all,” the EU source said.
Once the report came out, several Western diplomats said Washington was left with little support for a resolution of “non-compliance” with its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and for a Council report.
EU diplomats said the Big Three’s strategy was to look to the future and stop Iran from closing the nuclear fuel enrichment cycle rather than focusing on the past. Washington, on the other hand, is unwilling to overlook any defunct weapons-related activities that might have gone on in the past.
Iran sees no censor: Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said on Thursday he did not believe the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would censure Tehran for its nuclear programme at a crucial meeting next month.
Hassan Rohani, head of the Supreme National Security Council told reporters that a report on Iran this week by the UN’s nuclear watchdog had used softer language than previous assessments.
“It is highly unlikely in the upcoming meeting they are going to have a resolution on Iran,” Rohani told reporters after regular talks in New Delhi, a close ally and one of the world’s nuclear powers.
“We are purely engaged in the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” Rohani said through a translator. “We will not bow to pressure on us as a result of unlawful measures by America or, for that matter, by any other country.”
Blair: British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday Iran must comply completely with the demands of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog by divulging full details of its secret weapons programmes.
“I want to make it very clear to the Iranian authorities that there must be complete and total compliance with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency),” Blair told a news conference.
“There can’t be any partial compliance with that. The demands they have made have to be met and be met in full.” —Reuters/AFP