Iran's growing bilateral relations with Russia, Germany, France and Britain

Feb 28 - Mar 06, 2005

Russia's atomic agency chief Alexander Rumyantsev flew to Iran last Friday to sign a vital agreement on the return of nuclear fuel that will finally allow Russia to launch the Islamic state's first nuclear power plant.

Russia, it may be recalled, had refused to launch the plant near the southern town of Bushehr until Iran agreed to return all of the nuclear fuel provided for the plant by Russia. The two sides finally made headway last month and Russia is now on track to launch the 800-million-dollar (606-million-euro) project at the start of next year.  Russia has examined the option of building a second reactor at Bushehr along with new nuclear plants at other locations.

The French Foreign Ministry spokesman called Rowhani's meeting with Chirac a strong indication of Europe's intention to promptly resolve Iran's nuclear issue. Russia will sign a deal with Iran next week to start nuclear fuel shipments for the Russian-built reactor there, an Iranian official said on Thursday.  "A fuel deal for the Bushehr nuclear power plant signed on Feb. 26," says Assadollah Saburi, deputy director the Iran Atomic Energy Organization. The comments indicated that the two countries had settled disagreements over the terms of their accord after years of negotiations. Saburi said Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, would travel to Iran to sign the deal. A source at the agency said this month that the first fuel containers would be supplied about two months after the signing. The 1,000-megawatt Bushehr reactor, Iran's only nuclear power plant is due to start up in late 2005 and reach full capacity in 2006.  Spent fuel will be sent back to Siberian storage units after about a decade of use-a condition Russia thinks should allay U.S. concerns that Iran could use the material to make weapons.

Meanwhile, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rowhani, has said that Tehran is ready to give all assurances that it will not seek a nuclear weapons program and will show flexibility and implement confidence-building measures to that effect but it will not give up its right to master nuclear technology.  "Iran is ready to show flexibility and implement confidence-building measures to assure Europe that it doesn't seek the atomic bomb, but it will not relinquish its inalienable right," Rowhani told German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.  "If any government in Iran tries to accept a permanent freeze on nuclear enrichment, it will fall," Rowhani noted. Investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency have proven that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.

Rowhani said that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the international mechanism meant to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and Iran has signed the treaties on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and is committed to them. The German chancellor has however urged Iran to continue talks with Europe until a solution is found. Schroeder said that if Iran and the European Union reach an agreement in the nuclear negotiations, then a new era will begin in Iran's relations with the international community and the Iranian nation will benefit. Schroeder added that Iran and Germany have enjoyed good ties in the political and economic spheres and that Berlin is prepared to further develop its ties with Tehran.

The German leader also said that the Europeans are very keen to invest in Iran's infrastructure projects. The German government has expanded its economic relations with Iran over the past year as a result of the nuclear talks between Iran and the EU, Schroeder noted. 

Rowhani also held talks with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris last week.  The meeting, which was also attended by French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, Rowhani called for "dynamism" in the Iran-European Union nuclear talks.

He cited Iran's complete and legitimate right to access nuclear technology meant for peaceful purposes, as stipulated in the NPT, but assured France that Iran's uranium enrichment program would remain peaceful.

Iran has cooperated extensively with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and has permitted the agency to inspect its nuclear sites, Rowhani said.

On numerous occasions, the IAEA announced that it had found no evidence indicating that Iran's nuclear activities had been diverted toward a nuclear weapons program, he added.

For his part, the French president noted that Europe and the United States share a common concern about the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world.

However, Chirac stressed that France and Europe recognize the right of countries to make use of civilian nuclear technology.

Gaining assurances that Iran's enrichment activities are meant for peaceful purposes and resolving the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation in the world are France's chief objectives, he added. The French foreign minister said that the Iran-EU nuclear talks have led to some significant achievements.

Lauding Iran's campaign against illicit drugs, Barnier announced France's willingness to cooperate with the Islamic Republic in the campaigns against organized crime, terrorism, and drugs. The EU big three (Britain, Germany, and France) will soon dispatch a delegation to Iran in order to boost Iran-Europe cooperation in this regard, he said. Iran does not have and will never pursue a nuclear weapons program and therefore "is committed to implement all international regulations of nuclear non-proliferation treaties, he asserted  "Iran does not view nuclear fuel as a security issue but considers the production of nuclear fuel an economic measure to attain self-sufficiency. "However, Iran is prepared to take any confidence-building measure in order to show that its nuclear fuel program is not meant for the production of nuclear weapons."

Rowhani referred to Iran's measure in signing the additional protocol to the NPT as a confidence-building gesture that was only meant to prove that its nuclear fuel cycle program would not be diverted towards a nuclear weapons program. Rowhani went on to  say that Iran has decided to construct new nuclear power plants in order to produce 6000 megawatts of energy.

Courtesy Tehran Times
Edited by Amanullah Bashar