View Full Version : UN nuclear chief in secret talks with Iran over deal to end sanctions

16 Nov 09,, 22:03
UN nuclear chief in secret talks with Iran over deal to end sanctions (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6919329.ece)

United Nations and Iranian officials have been secretly negotiating a deal to persuade world powers to lift sanctions and allow Tehran to retain the bulk of its nuclear programme in return for co-operation with UN inspectors.

According to a draft document seen by The Times, the 13-point agreement was drawn up in September by Mohamed ElBaradei, the directorgeneral of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in an effort to break the stalemate over Iran’s nuclear programme before he stands down at the end of this month.

The IAEA denied the existence of the document, which was leaked to The Times by one of the parties alarmed at the contents. Its disclosure was made as the agency warned that Iran could be hiding multiple secret nuclear sites.

Despite the assessment, diplomats believed that Mr ElBaradei was hoping to agree the outline of a deal with Tehran that he could present to the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany as a solution to the impasse.
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It was thought that Mr ElBaradei was anxious to secure his legacy after infighting over his perceived weakness in dealing with Iran.

The plan would require the UN Security Council to revoke the three existing sanctions and five resolutions ordering Iran to halt its uranium enrichment — an unthinkable development at a time when the West is focused on how to impose more, not fewer, sanctions on Iran.

Russia and China, who have commercial ties with Iran and have been pressing for a compromise, may see merit in the plan, however.

Hopes of reaching a consensus rose in September with the discovery of a second uranium enrichment plant under construction near Qom, which inspectors were allowed to visit finally last month.

Mr ElBaradei’s draft agreement envisaged allowing Iran to maintain and even expand its uranium enrichment programme, albeit under closer IAEA scrutiny, as part of a globally managed nuclear fuel bank. “The sides are to set up an international consortium for uranium enrichment, both in Iran and outside Iran,” the document said.

Section ten of the document proposed that if Iran complied with the arrangements, the signatories would report positively to the UN Security Council, where Iran would be rewarded with the lifting of sanctions.

“At first, the sanctions prohibiting the movement of scientists and technicians are to be lifted immediately, as are the sanctions connected to the supply of spare parts for aircraft and other essential activities,” it said.

The disclosure coincides with leaks from the report by IAEA inspectors warning of the dangers of taking Iran at its word over its nuclear programme.

The report, to be discussed at Mr ElBaradei’s final board of governors meeting next week, warned that Iran may be concealing multiple nuclear plants.

Iran claims that the Qom site was a fallback to preserve its declared peaceful enrichment programme if the Natanz complex was bombed. Inspectors said that Tehran had failed to convince them of its use and had even lied when it was being built. Nuclear experts said that the size of the plant suggested a military use.

Tehran belatedly informed the IAEA of the existence of the plant in September, reportedly after realising that it had been discovered and was being monitored by Western intelligence agencies.

“The agency has indicated that its declaration of the new facility reduces the level of confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction and gives rise to questions about whether there were any other nuclear facilities not declared to the agency,” the report said.

Iran’s failure to inform the IAEA of its decision to build or authorise construction of a nuclear facility as soon as the decision was made was inconsistent with its transparency obligations to the UN watchdog, the report by the inspectors said. “Moreover, Iran’s delay in submitting such information to the agency does not contribute to the building of confidence.”

The report said that Tehran lied when it told the agency that construction began in 2007, when evidence showed that the project had started in 2002 before pausing in 2004 and resuming in 2006.

Inspectors found the Qom site in an advanced state of construction but without centrifuges or nuclear materials. They said that Iran had told the agency it would be started up in 2011.

Western diplomats and nuclear experts said that the planned capacity of the Qom site, 3,000 centrifuges, made little sense as a peaceful enrichment centre because it would be too small to fuel a nuclear power station. It could, however, yield fissile material for one or two atom bombs per year.

19 Nov 09,, 14:15
Sabres rattling

Reuters Patricia Zengerle and Manny Mogato

World powers could have a package of measures against Iran "within weeks," U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday, warning Tehran of consequences for its failure to respond to an offer of a nuclear deal

Iran demands US free its assets after Obama warning

However, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dismissed talk of further punitive sanctions, saying the West had learnt from past failures.

Iran on Wednesday rejected a deal to send enriched uranium abroad for rendering into fuel for medical purposes in Tehran, defying world powers which regarded the offer as a way to delay Iran's potential ability to make atomic bombs by at least a year by divesting the country of most of its refined uranium stock.

Under the plan brokered by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Iran would ship some 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be converted into fuel plates for a Tehran reactor that makes isotopes for cancer treatment.

"Iran has taken weeks now and has not shown its willingness to say yes to this proposal ... and so as a consequence we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences," Obama said at a joint news conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul.

He said Iran would not be given an unlimited amount of time, likening the Iranian nuclear issue to years of stop-and-start negotiations with North Korea about its nuclear ambitions.

"We weren't going to duplicate what has happened with North Korea, in which talks just continue forever without any actual resolution to the issue," said Obama.

He has advocated a policy of increased engagement, rather than confrontation, on thorny international issues.


However, Russia said on Thursday Iran had still not given its final response to the proposed fuel deal.

"As far as we know, there has so far been no final official answer from Tehran," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement. "There is currently no discussion on working out additional sanctions against Iran."

In apparent response to Obama's comments, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated in a speech in Tabriz that Iran would respond positively to a change in big powers' policy.

"I am speaking to the world powers: Those who say they want to have a constructive interaction should know that if the Iranian nation sees a practical change in their behaviour and that they have given up their aggressive attitude and honestly raised a hand to Iran, then we would accept it," he said.

"But if we find they are still continuing their past domineering and hostile policies ... then the response of the Iranian national would be as firm as in the past."

During a visit to the Philippines, Mottaki shrugged off the possibility of further sanctions. "Sanction was the literature of the 60s and 70s," he told a news conference in Manila.

"I think they are wise enough not to repeat failed experiences," he said, speaking through an interpreter. "Of course, it's totally up to them."

Mottaki said the Islamic Republic was willing to discuss the reactor fuel deal but only if the swap of enriched uranium for the fuel took place within Iran.

"Iran raises its readiness in order to have further talks within the framework which is presented," he said. "It's not our proposal to have a swap. They raised such a proposal and we described and talked about how it could be operationalised."


Obama said he still hoped Iran would change its mind.

"Our expectation is that, over the next several weeks, we will be developing a package of potential steps that we could take, that would indicate our seriousness to Iran," he said.

He said he had confidence in the approach to Iran, which rejects suspicions that its declared programme to enrich uranium for electricity generation is a Trojan horse for efforts to produce atomic bomb fuel.

"I continue to hold out the prospect that they may decide to walk through this door. I hope they do," he said.

"But what I'm pleased about is the extraordinary international unity that we've seen. If you think at the beginning of the year, how disjointed international efforts were and how uneven perceptions were about Iran's nuclear programme, and where we are today, I think it's an indication that we've taken the right approach."

Russia and France also pushed Iran to accept the deal as is.

Diplomats say the six major powers are disunited over how tough the next sanctions should be. Russian and Chinese reservations, they say, all but ensure the next round will be largely symbolic, such as adding names to a U.N. blacklist for asset freezes and travel bans, rather than harsh measures targeting Iran's lifeblood oil and gas sector.

Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate power but its history of secrecy and restricting U.N. inspections have raised Western suspicions of a covert quest for atom bombs.