Russia to Begin Monumental Nuclear Talks with Iran

Created: 20.02.2006

Delegation from Iran led by deputy head of the country’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Hosseinitash has arrived in Moscow to discuss a compromise deal on Iran’s uranium enrichment.

Moscow is offering to enrich the uranium Iran needs for nuclear power stations on Russian soil, an arrangement that would help ease international concerns Tehran could divert the material for bomb-making.

Iran said Sunday it will consider Moscow’s proposal if certain provisions are met, giving new hope for what is seen as an eleventh-hour chance to avert confrontation ahead of a crucial meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on March 6, which could start a process leading to sanctions, AP reported.

“If the Russian plan, with supplementary indicators, leads to a comprehensive proposal, then we could say it will have Iran’s interest,” Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said. “The partners in the plan, the duration of the project, location of enrichment and consensus of all related parties would be significant to Iran.”

Hosseinitash said at a news conference that Iran was not going to reject its legal right to possess peaceful nuclear technologies. He said there was “no connection between the moratorium for uranium enrichment and the negotiations in Moscow.”

He reminded that Russia had voted to inform the UN’s Security Council on Iran’s nuclear dossier that had been “not what we had expected; we made it clear to Russians and they presented us their explanation.” Hosseinitash added that Russia’s principal position on the solution of Iran’s problem within the International Atomic Energy Agency had not changed.

Russia’s foreign ministry officials quoted by RIA-Novosti said their country was intended to call Iran to resume its moratorium for nuclear operations.

There has been increasing dismay in Russia which is building a nuclear power reactor in Iran and is a staunch supporter of Tehran’s right to peaceful atomic energy about the actions and words of Iranian officials and their hedging, hot-and-cold response to the enrichment proposal.

After first indicating they had rejected the offer, Iranian officials said repeatedly that they were interested but that the proposal needed work and fell short of their needs. That left strong doubts that they would accept the basic premise of the offer: enrichment in Russia, not Iran.

Iranian delegation also consists of other top council members, as well as the foreign ministry and Atomic Energy Organization officials.