Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani speaks to journalists during a news conference in Tehran, December 5, 2005. Top Iranian and Russian officials agreed on Thursday to hold talks on a Russian proposal aimed a resolving Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the West, an Iranian diplomat close to the talks said.
Top Iranian and Russian officials agreed on Thursday to hold talks on a Russian proposal aimed a resolving Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the West, an Iranian diplomat close to the talks said.
The proposal, which is backed by Washington and the European Union, involves the creation of a joint Iranian-Russian company to enrich uranium in Russia.
Moscow put forward the plan in a bid to allay international concerns that Iran could manufacture highly enriched uranium on its own soil to build atomic weapons.
Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium to a low grade, suitable for use in atomic power reactors.
Iranian officials had previously said they would reject any plan which denied Iran the right to build its own uranium enrichment facilities.
But, in a sudden change of tone, a senior official said on Wednesday Tehran would “seriously and enthusiastically” study the Russian plan.
The diplomat, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the agreement to talks on the proposal came during a telephone conversation between Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov.
Larijani told Ivanov there were “ambiguities and problems” with the Russian plan but that “the outline of the proposal can be reviewed,” the diplomat said.
Time is running out for the Iranians.
But, Russian intervention must be considered suspect.
If the Iranians do not stand down, Israel and the United States WILL take military action.
Asked about Iran’s decision to discuss the Russian proposal, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said in Washington that it was hard to say at this point what it means.
“The fundamentals haven’t changed, which are that it is up to Iran to respond positively, cooperatively and meaningfully to address the concerns of the international community,” Ereli said. “It still hasn’t done that,” he added
EU diplomats and arms control experts have noted Tehran has been careful to stop short of flatly rejecting Moscow’s plan, which could weaken Russian opposition to EU and U.S. efforts to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
They say Iran may be willing to drag out talks on the Russian proposal to buy time and good favor.