Iran sending top official to Europe for talks on N-issue

Posted in Iran | 06-Sep-04 | Source: dawn.com (Pakistan)

Iran said it was sending its top national security official Hassan Rowhani to Europe to forestall US efforts to haul the Islamic republic before the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.
TEHRAN, Sept 5: Iran said on Sunday it was sending its top national security official to Europe to forestall US efforts to haul the Islamic republic before the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.

The foreign ministry said Hassan Rowhani would travel to the Netherlands on Monday. "Currently we are in very sensitive discussions with the Europeans. Tomorrow Mr Rowhani will got to the Netherlands to meet with Dutch officials," spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

Rowhani's mission will follow a weekend meeting in the Netherlands of European leaders, who appeared to be torn between pursuing efforts to engage Iran and calls for a harder line over Tehran's nuclear aims.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, is due to discuss a new report on Tehran's atomic aims from September 13. Asefi urged the Europeans, who have been acting as brokers between Iran and the IAEA, not to bow to pressure from the United States, which accuses the clerical regime of failing to come clean and trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Washington, which dubbed Iran part of an "axis of evil" along with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea, plans to call at the IAEA meeting for the issue to be referred to the UN Security Council, in a move bringing sanctions a step closer.

"The Europeans should be very careful when they adopt positions. Of course we understand the Europeans are under US pressure, but the Europeans should pay attention to the report of the IAEA, which reflects a lot of realities," Asefi said.

"We hope the agency will pursue its work away from politics and act independently and professionally. I think in this atmosphere we can expand our co-operation with the agency and Europe," Asefi said.

The Europeans seem to be in a quandary over how to proceed, given that Iran has backed away from a "confidence-building" agreement to suspend activities related to the sensitive nuclear fuel cycle.

While Iran has suspended enriching uranium, it has resumed making centrifuges and has announced its intention to engage in large-scale uranium conversion, a precursor to enrichment. -AFP

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