EU Foreign Policy Chief Hopeful about Iran Trip

A03857417.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in Brussels Wednesday that he hopes his forthcoming trip to Iran would restart the process for settling the Iranian nuclear issue.

“We hope very much there will be a positive outcome of the visit and that it will not be just one visit, that it will be a process that restarts again in trying to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis,” Solana said at a joint press conference with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

“It is very, very important that the nuclear issue be resolved in a manner that the international community will have objective guarantees on the program of Iran,” he said.

For his part, Yang reaffirmed China’s position on the issue, saying “China is for the safeguarding of the Non-proliferation Treaty, and we are for maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East.”

“We believe the Iranian nuclear issue will be solved peacefully through diplomatic channels,” he added.

“It will be in the interests of the region and the world if an appropriate and good settlement is found for this issue,” said the Chinese minister.

Solana will leave Friday afternoon for Tehran to try to persuade Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program, his spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said.

He will also deliver a letter to Iran on behalf of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

After Iran answered IAEA’s outstanding questions about the history of its past nuclear activities, Tehran said that it will only negotiate with the UN nuclear watchdog from then on. The Islamic Republic has also repeatedly stressed that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.

Yet, the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. 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 contradicts the report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seem to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Tehran says it wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has also insisted that it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Not only 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 finished a tour of the Middle East in winter to gain the consensus of 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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