Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Iran rejects European offer of nuclear reactor

Ireland Online - Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today rejected a European plan to offer his country incentives, including a light-water nuclear reactor, in return for giving up uranium enrichment.

“Do you think you are dealing with a four-year old child to whom you can give some walnuts and chocolates and get gold from him?” Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in central Iran.

European nations have weighed adding a light-water reactor to a package of incentives meant to persuade Tehran to permanently give up uranium enrichment - or face the threat of UN Security Council sanctions.

Senior diplomats and EU government officials yesterday said the tentative plans were being discussed among France, Britain and Germany as part of a possible package to be presented to senior representatives of the five permanent UN Security Council members at a meeting in London.

“The Iranian nation won’t accept any suspension or end” to its uranium enrichment activities, Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state television.

He said Iran trusted the European Union in 2003 and suspended its nuclear activities as a gesture to boost negotiations over its nuclear programme, only to have the Europeans eventually demand Iran permanently halt its uranium enrichment programme.

The 2003 deal called for guarantees that Iran’s nuclear programme wouldn’t diverge from civilian ends toward producing weapons.

Iran agreed to the request, but negotiations collapsed in August 2005 when the Europeans said the best guarantee was for Iran to permanently give up its uranium enrichment programme.

Iran responded by resuming uranium reprocessing activities at its uranium conversion facility in Isfahan, central Iran.

It resumed research and uranium enrichment earlier this year after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, referred Tehran to the UN Security Council.

“We won’t be bitten twice,” Ahmadinejad said.

“We recommend that you not sacrifice your interests for the sake of others,” he said, apparently a warning to the EU about supporting the position advocated by the US.

Ahmadinejad reiterated his threat to pull out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty if international pressure to give up uranium enrichment continued.

“Don’t force governments and nations to renounce their membership in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty,” he said asserting that Iran had the right to a civilian nuclear power programme.

“Know that any decision that doesn’t recognise the right of the Iranian nation won’t be recognised by the Iranian nation and will be null and void.”