MOSCOW (AFP) -Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has warned that Tehran would reconsider its cooperation with UN nuclear monitors if the UN Security Council imposes tough sanctions currently under consideration.
Larijani, who arrived in Moscow Friday for talks with Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian security council chief Igor Ivanov, said the current draft UN resolution put forward by major European powers was unacceptable.
“We will review our relations with the IAEA if the UN adopts the European resolution without the amendments proposed by Russia,” Larijani was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.
Even if Russian amendments softening the proposed UN resolution are included, that “will not make Iran change its mind” about developing nuclear power, he said. “We have to find a logical way to solve this problem.”
The United States and the European Union say they suspect Iran of using a budding civilian nuclear energy program to mask atomic weapons work and have spearheaded international pressure for tough measures against Iran.
Russia, which is building Iran’s first civilian nuclear power plant at Bushehr, has sought to steer the standoff away from direct confrontation. “We consistently call for a negotiated solution to this problem,” Lavrov said Friday.
Tehran denies having military plans, insisting its nuclear activities are legal and strictly for energy purposes. The country’s nuclear programme remains under supervision of the United Nations’ inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iranian officials were also expected to discuss progress in the Bushehr construction contract, which Russia says is a legitimate project, but the United States has asked to be stopped. Iran’s ambassador to Moscow told ITAR-TASS news agency there is no “reason for halting building.”
Larijani also reiterated Iran’s openness to a Russian compromise proposal under which uranium needed for any future Iranian nuclear programme would be enriched at Russian facilities, thereby preventing Iran from mastering the sensitive technology on its own soil.
“This proposal was never rejected and it remains on the negotiating table,” Larijani said.
The Iranian negotiator also said Tehran was carefully studying a package of proposals from six world powers aimed at dissuading Iran from pursuing sensitive nuclear work on its own.
“We hope that the problem will be solved within the framework of these proposals,” he said.
Debate at the UN Security Council on possible sanctions comes after Iran refused to halt sensitive nuclear fuel work that can be used for atomic energy generation but also, eventually, to build atomic weapons.
Larijani this week shrugged off the impact of any sanctions, saying “this will not have any effect on the economic situation and on the people’s daily life,” Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
Russia, one of the permanent members along with Britain, China, France and the United States, has said the resolution is too tough on Iran and has proposed major amendments to the draft.