Iran, EU disagree on nuclear issue

Agence France Presse

Manila, February 8:

Iran and the EU go into talks on Iran’s nuclear programme in Geneva today in flat disagreement over the most crucial point — Tehran’s abandoning uranium enrichment in order to guarantee it is not trying to make atomic weapons.

And time is pressing. A European diplomat told AFP that both sides are “complaining about a lack of speed” in reaching an accord. Iran is waiting for incentive rewards, such as entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Europeans, meanwhile, expect the Islamic Republic to give up work on making enriched uranium, which can be used as fuel for atomic power reactors but also the core for nuclear weapons. The European Union, led in the talks by Britain, France and Germany, is calling on Iran to dismantle its nuclear fuel programme but Iran insists that it has the right, sanctified by international treaties, to work on the nuclear fuel cycle.

In Tehran yesterday, Sirus Naseri, a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiations strategy committee, said Tehran would not bow to such a demand. He told state television that Iran had already “reached the point of no return in the fuel technology issue.”

Blair brands Iran a sponsor of terrorism:

London: British Prime Minister Tony Blair today called Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, and urged the Islamic republic to meet EU demands to renounce its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons. “It certainly does sponsor terrorism. There’s no doubt about that at all,” Blair told a parliamentary committee, agreeing with US President George W Bush’s view of Iran as a top sponsor of terrorism. “I hope very much that if we can make progress in the Middle East, that Iran realises that it’s got an obligation to help that, not hinder it,” he said, referring to Iran’s support for Palestinian militant groups. — AFP