Iran Welcomes Russia Nuke Offer

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani speaks to the media after his talks with Russian Security Council chief Igor Ivanov in Moscow, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006. Larijani said Wednesday that Tehran welcomes Moscow's offer to have Iran's uranium enriched in Russia as a positive development but holds out the threat to renew enrichment activities if it is referred to the United Nations Security Council.
Tehran's nuclear negotiator on Wednesday welcomed Moscow's offer to have Iran's uranium enriched in Russia, but said the proposal needs more work and threatened to renew full-scale uranium enrichment if his country is referred to the U.N. Security Council.

Iran's High Council of National Security Secretary Ali Larijani suggested it would take time to work out details of Russia's proposal, a Western-backed compromise that could provide more oversight and ease fears that Tehran is using its pursuit of atomic power as a front for a nuclear weapons 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. "This plan can be perfected in the future, during further talks that will be held in February."

Some critics say that Tehran is using the proposal, under which Iranian uranium would be enriched in Russia and returned to Iran for use in the country's reactors, to stall for time as diplomatic pressure over its nuclear activities mounts.

"There are lots of details surrounding this offer that must be must be decided, the location of the plant, the form of participation, technical cooperation," Larijani told a news conference, speaking through a translator. He said the proposal would have to be developed "in conjunction with other measures that require more talks."

Russian officials have said further talks on the proposal would be held in Russia around Feb. 16, after a Feb. 2 emergency board meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which could send the Iran standoff to the U.N. Security Council.

With that meeting looming, Larijani said Iran would welcome talks with European countries, though an Iranian proposal to renew talks with the European Union was recently rejected, and warned his country would abandon its nuclear obligations if the issue is brought before the council.

"If they use political pressure, if our dossier is handed over or opened in an unofficial way by the Security Council, then according to a parliament decision we are obligated to revoke the fulfillment of all moratoriums," he said. "In this situation, our actions will not be limited to research. Then we will begin industrial enrichment."

He said Tehran would also be obliged to forsake a 2003 agreement with the IAEA that gave the agency more power to inspect Iranian nuclear sites, and warned of unspecified additional actions that he said would be revealed "in due time."

Iran removed IAEA seals from equipment Jan. 10, ending a 15-month moratorium, and announced it would restart research on nuclear fuel including what it described as small-scale enrichment. The move led Germany, Britain and France to call for the Feb. 2 emergency board session.