Iran welcomes talks with world powers

By Robin Pomeroy

TEHRAN (BestGrowthStock) – Iran’s nuclear negotiator on Saturday welcomed next week’s talks with world powers as a way to thaw relations, but accused some of the countries involved of “terrorism” against the Islamic state’s atomic program.

Saeed Jalili will meet European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, conducting the meeting involving the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, in Geneva on Monday amid tensions heightened by bomb attacks in Tehran and leaks of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables.

The “P5+1” countries, which have not held substantive talks with Iran since October 2009, want assurances Tehran is telling the truth when it says it is not seeking to derive nuclear weapons from its declared civilian atomic energy program.

With Israel and Washington holding out the ultimate option of military action to stop Iran getting the bomb if diplomacy fails, relations were already poor before the killing on Monday of an Iranian nuclear scientist in a bomb attack, something Tehran blamed on Britain, the United States and Israel.

Briefing reporters about the talks, Jalili struck a positive note. “We see negotiations as a ground for further interaction and cooperation.” But he insisted Iran would not negotiate away its nuclear “rights” — code language for its uranium enrichment work — and urged an end to the powers’ “two-track” approach of imposing sanctions while seeking a negotiated solution.

“The fact that the P5+1 has come to the conclusion that it should come to the talks, we welcome this fact. However, this is not enough,” he said.

“In order for talks to continue, the wrong strategy of the past must be set aside and the talks should continue. Adopting a double standard will not do.”

SPIES, TERRORISTS

The talks will start one week after two daylight bomb attacks on nuclear scientists in Iran killed one and wounded the other. No one has claimed responsibility but Iran called it a “terrorist” attack by Israeli, British and U.S. intelligence.

“Terrorism is a sign of the pressure strategies failing,” Jalili said. “The assassination of Dr (Majid) Shahriyari on the one hand cancels out the pressure strategy and on the other strongly supports the legitimate right of the Iranian people and the ideals of the Islamic Revolution.”

Adding to the climate of distrust, Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi accused the International Atomic Energy Agency of sending spies from foreign intelligence services to act as IAEA inspectors who regularly visit Iran’s atomic sites.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran’s uranium enrichment — a process which can yield fuel for both civil and military uses — would not be discussed at the Geneva talks despite it being the central concern for the other parties.

Jalili emphasized: “Just as in (previous) talks we did not allow Iran’s rights to be undermined, we will be pursuing the same course in this latest round.”

Speaking in Bahrain, one of the many Gulf Arab countries which, according to secret U.S. memos on the WikiLeaks website, privately encouraged U.S. hostility to Iran, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki sought to ease regional tensions.

“Our power in the region is your power and your power in the region is our power,” he told a conference where he also expressed support for a U.S.-led initiative for a nuclear “fuel bank” of low-enriched uranium which countries could turn to if their regular supplies were cut.

The plan was adopted by the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors in Vienna on Friday.

“We agree with the creation of a fuel bank. We support that. And since we are a fuel producer and we have the technology for this, then in principle a branch of that bank should be established in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Mottaki said.

One benefit of the idea would be to help states produce civilian nuclear energy without the need to develop their own uranium enrichment capabilities, a pathway to atom bombs.

Iran welcomes talks with world powers