Ahmadinejad Annuls Earlier N. Proposal

A0321133.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said a proposal he made in 2005 for an international consortium to enrich uranium inside his country is no more on the table.

“This proposal is no longer on the table,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview published Tuesday by respected French daily Le Monde.

“But if others formulated it again, we would study it – under one condition: that the Iranian people’s right to enrich uranium be preserved,” he added.

He first made the consortium proposal at the UN General Assembly. He said then that Iran “is prepared to engage in serious partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of uranium enrichment programs in Iran.”

To Le Monde, Ahmadinejad noted that the United States and European nations had not favored his proposal.

“They thought we formulated it only because we were in a position of weakness,” he said.

Europe and the US want Iran to suspend all enrichment work inside the country.

The US is at odds with Iran over Tehran’s independent and home-grown nuclear technology. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and a similar report by the IAEA head in November which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities, Russia and China increased resistance to any further punitive measures by the Security Council.

Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needed to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it was building in the southwestern town of Darkhovin.

Last year Iran agreed on a work plan with the Vienna-based IAEA that was intended to clear up all outstanding questions about Tehran’s past nuclear activities.

Iran has pledged to clear up all remaining questions over the program by late February.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said on Sunday he was making progress in wrapping up his investigation. The report is expected the week after next, diplomats in Vienna say.

Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East earlier this month has called on his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the growing international vigilance, specially following the latest IAEA and US intelligence reports.

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