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OfflineZahid
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Iran Will Allow U.N. Inspections of Nuclear Sites
    #2034086 - 10/22/03 10:56 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Iran Will Allow U.N. Inspections of Nuclear Sites

By ELAINE SCIOLINO - Published: October 22, 2003

TEHRAN, Oct. 21 ? Iran agreed Tuesday, after months of resistance, to accept stricter international inspections of its nuclear sites and to suspend production of enriched uranium, which can be used to develop nuclear weapons.

But Tehran gave no indication when it would suspend uranium enrichment or sign, ratify and carry out an additional agreement under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968 that would allow surprise inspections of its nuclear installations.
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The accord was completed in Tehran during an unusual visit by three European foreign ministers, Dominique de Villepin of France, Jack Straw of Britain and Joschka Fischer of Germany.

The ministers expressed hope that it would help defuse a diplomatic crisis that pitted Iran against the International Atomic Energy Agency and, increasingly, the world because of concerns that Iran is determined to become a nuclear power.

In a news conference with the three ministers, Hassan Rowhani, a powerful middle-level cleric who has emerged as Iran's chief negotiator during the current crisis, said the one-and-a-half-page agreement would first have to be approved by Iran's elected Parliament.

He emphasized that the suspension of uranium enrichment would be for an "interim period."

In Washington, the State Department reacted skeptically to the agreement, with officials privately voicing concerns that Tehran would not fully comply. Officials there only grudgingly praised the work of their European colleagues.

"Frankly, I'd say there's a good reason for healthy skepticism about what Iran will actually do, as opposed to what it says," one senior department official said.

The international terms for compliance include unfettered access by officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency ? the United Nations body that monitors nuclear programs around the world ? to weapons development sites, as well as chemical samplings from places where enriched uranium suitable for weapons is being produced.

Bush administration officials dismissed the notion that a less confrontational approach by the Europeans had yielded more tangible results than the administration's policy of ultimatums. They insisted that the agreement merely buttressed the American policy, and said they had kept in touch with the Europeans throughout the initiative.

"The European mission didn't give the Iranians any daylight," the senior State Department official said. "I wouldn't call it a deal, because the issues that concern us weren't subject for compromise."

Still, the agreement was a victory for the Europeans and the culmination of two and a half months of diplomatic effort to convince Iran that it would be punished by an undivided world community if it did not comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency's strict demands.

It also underscores the emergence of a potentially powerful European alliance in the aftermath of the American-led Iraq war and occupation among Britain, which supported the war, and France and Germany, which did not.

As an incentive to Iran, the agreement recognized its right "to enjoy peaceful use of nuclear energy" in accordance with the nonproliferation treaty. Indeed, Mr. Rowhani said Europe and Iran were entering a "new phase" in which Europe was committed to help Iran develop its nuclear energy program and to seek ways to increase trade ties with Iran.

A policy that uses incentives in the nuclear field puts the European position at odds with that of the United States. The Clinton and Bush administrations have opposed Russia's project with Iran to build nuclear reactors at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf, arguing that Iran ? a major oil producer ? does not need nuclear energy and that activities at the site could indirectly help a nuclear weapons program.

In making the pledges, Iran seems to have been motivated primarily by a fear of international isolation and sanctions. Last month, in a vote that united Americans, Europeans and others, the 35-nation governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency ordered Iran to prove by Oct. 31 that it has no secret weapons program or face unspecified consequences at the Security Council.


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OfflineZahid
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Re: Iran Will Allow U.N. Inspections of Nuclear Sites [Re: Zahid]
    #2034090 - 10/22/03 10:57 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

(Page 2 of 2)

In the agreement on Tuesday, Iran also committed itself to answer probing questions posed by the agency last month about the recent discovery of highly enriched uranium at two sites. A senior Iranian official said his government felt it had to break the confrontational relationship over its nuclear program that had developed with foreign countries, adding that the agreement opened a process that would lead to more cooperation with Europe.

While Iranian officials deny that they are building nuclear weapons, the United States, France, Britain and Germany are convinced that they are. The atomic energy agency has turned up disturbing evidence in recent months that points to a secret weapons program.

Senior Bush administration officials said the United States was keen to avoid a confrontation with Iran. Senior European and American officials said that could have forced still another clash between the United States and its allies in the Security Council and discouraged Iranian concessions at a time when some extreme voices in Iran are calling for a withdrawal from the nonproliferation treaty.

Even worse, those officials said, it could have forced the United States to take punitive action against a powerful Islamic country of 65 million people in a strategically important location between Iraq and Afghanistan.

For those reasons, the United States reluctantly endorsed the European initiative, with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell telling his European counterparts that what the United States wanted was an unambiguous document that left no room for negotiation or second-guessing, European officials said.

The European initiative grew out of a letter drafted by France and sent by the three ministers to Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, in August. It urged Iran to adopt a protocol to the nonproliferation treaty that provides for intrusive inspections on short notice, and to halt its uranium enrichment program.

In return, the letter acknowledged Iran's right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and raised the possibility of cooperation on technology, without specifically pledging help with a civilian nuclear energy program.

The agreement on Tuesday came swiftly, apparently enjoying the support of conservatives as well as reformers in Iran's divided leadership.


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OfflineZahid
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Re: Iran Will Allow U.N. Inspections of Nuclear Sites [Re: Zahid]
    #2034095 - 10/22/03 10:59 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)



Image 1: President Mohammad Khatami of Iran shook hands with Foreign Minister Jack Straw of Britain as other foreign ministers looked on.

Image 2: Iran's chief negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, in turban, announced the accord, flanked by (from left) the British, French and German foreign ministers.


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OfflineZahid
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Re: Iran Will Allow U.N. Inspections of Nuclear Sites [Re: Zahid]
    #2034622 - 10/23/03 01:50 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Nuclear agreement still in doubt

October 23, 2003
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President Mohammad Khatami of Iran said yesterday that an agreement to suspend uranium enrichment and sign up to snap nuclear inspections will have to be submitted to parliament for approval.

The outcome of a vote on the agreement is uncertain because although parliament is dominated by pro-Khatami reformists, all legislation must go to the hardline supervisory body the Guardian Council.

Iranian hardliners regard snap inspections as tantamount to allowing spies into the country.

Tehran agreed to the snap inspections and to freeze uranium enrichment on Tuesday in what three visiting European ministers hailed as a promising start to removing doubts about Iran's atomic aims.

British, French and German foreign ministers had flown to Tehran to try to persuade Iran to comply with an October 31 United Nations deadline to prove that it has no ambitions to produce nuclear weapons.

The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said of the commitment to suspend the program: "What is important now is not only the words by the Iranians, but the action to fully implement what their international obligations are."
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Mr McClellan spoke to reporters travelling in Asia with President George Bush, who recently vowed that "we will not tolerate" construction of a nuclear weapon by Iran.

The three European nations had joined Washington in demanding Tehran accept tougher inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but they recognised Iran's right to develop a nuclear energy program and held out the prospect of technical help with it in future.

An IAEA spokesman, Mark Gwozdecky, said the result of the talks in Tehran was "encouraging", but said Iran had still to provide the UN with a full declaration of its past nuclear activities.

Reuters


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