Iran to respond on nuclear deal with West

Iran says it’s ready for constructive talks with world powers. But it will not discuss what it calls its nuclear rights.

The Islamic Republic is due to give its response in Vienna today to a UN-drafted nuclear fuel deal.

Fears about the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme were heightened in September with the disclosure of a once-secret uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom.

The US and other world powers suspect Iran’s nuclear development plans are designed to produce nuclear weapons.

Neither the International Atomic Energy Agency nor Iranian officials have commented on the IAEA inspectors visit this week to the site.

The inspections were aimed at verifying that the reactor was intended to produce peaceful nuclear energy and not warheads.

Under the draft deal Iran would send low enriched uranium abroad for further processing and eventual use in a research reactor.


High hopes for Iran nuclear deal

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, believes it has found the formula that will settle the nuclear standoff between Iran and the international community.

Director and Nobel peace prize winner Mohammed El-Baradei leaves his post next month, and he hopes this will be his legacy.

“I very much hope that people see the big picture, see that this agreement could open the way for a complete normalisation of relations between Iran and the international community,” he said in Vienna.

El-Baradei’s project, which needs the approval of all the nations involved in talks, has initially been presented to four of them: the US, Iran, France and Russia.

It requires Iran to send its low-level enriched uranium to Russia, where it will be boosted to the maximum allowed for civil use, – 19.75 percent – and then sent to France, which will transform it into nuclear piles for use in reactors.

France will then return it to Iran, where it will be used in research facilities mainly for the production of medical isotopes.

One of the sticking points until now had been France’s insistance that Iran exhaust its stockpile, or at least reduce it to a point where making fissile material for warheads would be impossible. That appears to have been taken on board.

Iran will send 1200 kilos of its 1500 kilo stockpile to Russia for enrichment. The 300 kilos left in Iran is way below the 2000 kilos needed to make a bomb, and Iran cannot currently enrich it to the 90 percent weapons-grade level in any case.

The ball is now firmly in the court of the governments concerned.

CDU threatened by nuclear waste fallout

In Germany, fresh claims about nuclear contamination have threatened to derail the Christian Democrats election campaign.

The Enviroment Minister said the CDU government in the 1980’s tampered with a report to play down the risks of using Gorleben as a permament site for atomic waste.

It is claimed that under the leadership of then Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Germany’s research ministry asked the federal agency in charge to alter its findings about the site.

According to the agency’s report at the time there was a risk that radioactive substances could seep into the ground water, making the site unsuitable for long-term storage.

The German daily, Suddeutsche Zeitung first published the revelations earlier this week.

Yesterday, Environment Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, upped the ante by calling for an inquiry: “We need a total open and transparent procedure, and not this hide and seek game and secret diplomacy, that has been performed concerning Gorleben in the past.”

But the former Research Minister is rejecting claims of a cover-up.

“I don’t know whether the report had been altered, because I haven’t seen this report neither in its earlier state nor in its later state, and that is none of my business. A ministry works like this: we rely on those who do the work,” said Heinz Riesenhuber.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s camp has pledged to complete checks of all Gorleben files, dating back to the 1980’s but serious damage may already have been inflicted on her party, which has made clear its continuing support for nuclear power.

Although Germany’s remaining 17 reactors are scheduled to go offline by 2020 – the CDU party wants to revise the law and extend their operating life.

The use of nuclear energy is not the explosive issue it once was for the German electorate, with
polls suggesting only 7 percent of Germans back the government’s proposals.

Iran hands plans to western powers

The Iranian foreign minister has handed a package of proposals to a group of world powers, as the West increased its pressure on Tehran to take part in meaningful talks to resolve the international dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.

There were six copies – one each for Germany, China, Russia, and France. The Swiss ambassador accepted documents for the US and Britain who have no diplomatic presence in Tehran.

Iran said the proposals address various global issues. But it is not clear if the dossiers contained anything that would avert further international sanctions threatened over fears that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said his inspectors had ‘serious concerns’ about Iran’s nuclear installations, but he is not panicking at the moment.

Iran has always maintained that its atomic programme is simply to produce electricity.

America’s envoy to the IAEA said the US has ‘serious concerns’ that Iran is close to producing a nuclear weapon.

Iran focus of row at UN nuclear watchdog

As Iran snubs the US in its push for new talks on the nuclear question, a row over the Islamic Republic has broken out at the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

Ahead of Washington’s end-of-September deadline for Tehran to enter talks, the Iranian President says his country will never negotiate on what he calls his nation’s obvious rights.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he was ready for dialogue on what he called challenges facing the world, but discussion about his country’s nuclear plants was finished.

Meanwhile, at the International Atomic Energy Agency there is controversy over French and Israeli complaints that suggest that not all information about Iran has been released by the body.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said: “I am dismayed by the allegations of some member states, which have been fed to the media, that information has been withheld from the Board. These allegations are politically motivated and totally baseless.”

The agency says it is stuck in a stalemate with Iran and that the Islamic Republic has not suspended its enrichment-related activities.