Solana sees “new chapter” in EU-Iran nuclear talks

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana sees the prospect of a
“new chapter” being opened in the Union’s relationship with Iran in
the wake of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s toned down
resolution.

On 29 November, the IAEA agreed on a resolution for
monitoring Iran’s commitment to freeze its uranium enrichment
activities which enable the country to produce either low-grade
nuclear fuel or raw material for nuclear weapons. The plan fell
short of referring Tehran to the UN Security Council over its
nuclear development programme.

However, on the heels of the IAEA’s announcement, Iran’s chief
nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani, reiterated that his country was
only prepared to freeze its related activities for a few months, so
long as negotiations with the EU are ongoing. The talks, in Iran’s
view, “must be rational and not too long”. “If the Europeans do not
show honesty, we will leave the talks,” said Rohani.

The EU-Iran trade talks – which were effectively suspended in
2003 – are now scheduled to resume on 15 December. The EU has
offered Iran a package of economic incentives in return for
suspending uranium enrichment. Solana believes that “now the work
on solid long-term arrangements can proceed rapidly. This work
should aim at providing lasting confidence in the peaceful nature
of Iran’s nuclear programme”. He has also reiterated the EU’s
determination to “reach a positive outcome in these
negotiations”.

Meanwhile, the US, which accuses Tehran of seeking to build
nuclear weapons, said that despite the IAEA decision the world must
“remain vigilant” about Iran’s plans. Furthermore, Washington said
that, if necessary, it would act independently by bringing the
issue before the UN Security Council. The US remains convinced that
“Iran’s nuclear weapons programme poses a growing threat to
international peace and security”.

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