Iran Friday rejected proposals from the European Union, led by the trio of
Britain, France and Germany and backed by the United States, to allow the Islamic Republic to pursue peaceful nuclear energy work as long it refrains from fuel cycle work that could help it make atomic weapons.
But foreign minister spokesman Hamid Reza Asefia said Iran would make a final decision in one or two days.
The European trio said there was still time for Iran to reconsider its threat to resume nuclear fuel activities, which it suspended in November to begin negotiations with the EU, and that maintaining the suspension would lead to the UN watchdog meeting being cancelled.
A summary of the 34-page package made available to reporters indicated that the British, French and German foreign ministers told the Iranians that they had no choice but to call for a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors.
This could send Iran before the UN Security Council for possible international economic sanctions.
If Iran makes “clear that it will not proceed as it has indicated (to restart work nuclear fuel cycle work) and will enter into discussions on the…proposal (presented Friday), we are ready not to continue with this process,” the ministers said.
In that case, there would be a meeting of senior officials from the two sides on August 31 in Paris and a ministerial meeting in New York in September, British, French, and German ministers Jack Straw, Philippe Douste-Blazy and Joschka Fischer said.
Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Moussavian said Friday in Tehran, however, that “the proposals are unacceptable” as they are a “clear violation” of agreements between Iran and the European Union.
“They negate Iran’s inalienable right (under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the NPT),” to making nuclear fuel, he said.
In Washington, the US administration said it supported the European proposal, in an apparent compromise move.
Acting State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Washington had been “consulting closely” with the so-called EU-3 countries, whose latest offer to Iran drew a cool initial reaction Friday in Tehran.
“We support the EU-3’s effort and the proposal they have put forward to find a diplomatic solution to this problem and to seek an end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program and fuel-cycle activities,” Mr Casey said.
He said “we encourage Iran to consider positively the EU-3’s offer (and) to continue to observe the Paris agreement” struck in November under which Iran suspended its sensitive fuel-cycle work while negotiations continued.
The United States fears that Iran is using its civilian nuclear program to hide a clandestine effort to develop nuclear bombs, a charge that Tehran has vigorously denied.