Iran Nixes Nuke Compromise

Iran Nuke: Magnifying glass over flags on Iran and UN with nuclear symbol AP / CBS

Iran will no longer consider a proposal to move its uranium enrichment program to Russian territory and is instead considering large scale uranium enrichment at home, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said Sunday.

Russia has sought to persuade Iran to move its enrichment program to Russian territory, which would allow closer international monitoring. Iran had insisted that the plan was negotiable and reached basic agreement with Moscow but details were never worked out.

"The Russian proposal is not on our agenda any more," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, meanwhile, said Sunday Iran had no intention to use oil as a weapon in its confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, contradicting Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi who said a day earlier that Tehran could use oil as a weapon if the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions against it.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is insisting to provide Asia with the oil it needs as a reliable and effective source of energy and will not use oil as a foreign policy instrument," he told a conference on energy and security issues in Tehran Sunday.

Iran is the No. 2 producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia. It also has partial control of the narrow Straits of Hormuz, a key route for most of the crude oil shipped from the Persian Gulf nations to world markets.

Asefi's comments to reporters effectively mean the Russian proposal is dead after the International Atomic Energy Agency referred Iran to the U.N. Security Council last week.

"Circumstances have changed. We have to wait and see how developments unfold within the (U.N. Security Council) five veto-holding countries," Asefi said.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies any intention to build weapons, saying it only aims to produce energy.

"The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council favor a negotiated solution," says CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk, "and the next step is likely to be a Presidential Statement, which does not require a vote by Security Council members, and would be formally issued by Argentina, which holds the Presidency for the month of March."

Falk adds, "The draft document that is being negotiated for submission early in the week is likely to ask the international atomic watchdog agency to report back to the Security Council on Iran's compliance without any reference to targeted sanctions.

"But the statements coming out of Teheran and Washington are certainly ratcheting up the pressure to find a diplomatic way out of the increasing threat that Iran will restart full uranium enrichment programs," Falk says.

The council has the power to impose political and economic sanctions on Iran if it doesn't back down.

Asked if Iran will resume large scale uranium enrichment in response to Iran's referral to the Security Council, Asefi said: "Regarding industrial scale uranium enrichment, we are going to wait for two, three days."
  • Scott Benjamin

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