REGION: EU upset by Iran’s nuclear obduracy, says Jack Straw
* Iran says it is ready to give guarantees on nuclear programme
VALKENBURG: European Union foreign ministers voiced disenchantment on Friday at Iran’s failure to cooperate more fully with UN efforts to ensure its nuclear programmeme is not a front for developing atomic weapons.
“We have all been perplexed and saddened that the Iranian government has not completed all the tasks it said it would,” British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on arrival for an EU meeting in the Netherlands.
He said he would meet his counterparts from France and Germany later to review their faltering diplomatic initiative to coax Iran into stopping uranium enrichment and complying fully with its treaty obligations.
“The responsibility for engagement rests on both sides,” Straw told reporters, responding to criticism from the United States that the EU’s Big Three have nothing to show from their attempt to engage with Tehran.
Straw said the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, contained “clear reservations” about the nature of Iran’s programme and past concealment efforts.
Several diplomats in Vienna said that the European trio were preparing to draft a resolution to be presented to the IAEA Board of Governors when it begins meeting on Sept. 13. The draft is not yet on paper, they said.
“The idea would be balance skepticism about Iran’s nuclear programme with criticism of their behaviour, but to point out that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel if they change their behaviour,” a diplomat on the 35-member board told Reuters.
Washington accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons while the oil-producing Islamic Republic insists its programme is purely for peaceful purposes.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, told reporters it was no secret that the EU was deeply concerned about Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Meanwhile an Iranian nuclear official said on Thursday that Tehran was ready to provide guarantees that its enrichment programmemes would never be used for military purposes.
Hossein Musavian, an aide to the head of Iran’s nuclear programmeme, Hassan Rowhani, told state television that Tehran’s pursuit of enrichment has been the main concern of its European partners. “The Europeans know that if Iran masters the technology for enrichment it has a potential (military) nuclear capability and that will change the (political) equation” in the region, he said.
But Musavian said that Iran was prepared to guarantee that enrichment would not be used for military purposes.
“We are prepared to build trust and provide a guarantee that our enrichment activities will always be peaceful.”
Meanwhile, a senior ultra-conservative Iranian cleric hit out at the United States and its accusations against Iran’s nuclear programmeme.
“(The US) is constantly lying, you have a different policy every day. The Islamic republic has had a transparent policy since day one,” Ayatollah Emami Kashani said during Friday prayers in Tehran.
“We curse you who dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima. We curse you who have committed these crimes against humanity,” he continued, followed by the usual chants of “Death to America, down with Israel” from the congregation.
Iran was emboldened to advance its nuclear activities after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) again failed to produce a “smoking gun” confirming US allegations of a secret weapons drive in a report released on Wednesday.
However, Washington continued efforts to convince the 34 other members of the UN watchdog’s governing board to refer Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear programmeme.
The IAEA report also signalled that Iran was determined to press on with work on the nuclear fuel cycle - permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) despite its potentially dual-use nature. agencies