Iranian Lawmakers Warn West ahead of Nuclear Talks
By Elizabeth Arrott
29 September 2009
Iran's parliament has warned the world's major powers not to repeat what it called their past mistakes during nuclear talks set for Thursday.
Iranian lawmakers say the Geneva meeting this week offers a historic chance to resolve the dispute over the nation's nuclear program.
In a statement issued Tuesday, parliament voiced its support of the talks within the framework of Iran's package of proposals.
So far, that package, counter-offers to Western demands it open up about its nuclear activities, has sparked little interest.
Ali Nouri Zadeh, the director of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London, says that's not likely to change.
"I don't think they're going to come up with any new idea," Zadeh said. "On the contrary, the Iranian proposal contains all sorts of issues but the nuclear issue."
The matter gained new urgency last week when Iran revealed, apparently under duress, that it was building a second uranium enrichment plant. According to reports it is located in or near a Revolutionary Guard military base.
Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi says his government plans to announce soon when international inspectors can view the facility, even though Western powers have indicated they will set the timetable.
In an interview with state-run Press TV, Salehi says the plant is being built according to international regulations and calls Western accusations about the nature of the facility "baseless." He adds that the plant will produce low-enriched uranium, consistent with a nuclear energy program.
The United States and several European allies have expressed concern that Tehran is secretly trying to make nuclear weapons, a charge the Iranian government denies.
Representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany are due to meet with Iranian envoys Thursday in Geneva. They are expected to offer further incentives for Iran to stop enriching uranium.
If the talks fail, several of the nations have threatened further sanctions. Ali Nouri Zadeh of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies says some kind of action seems inevitable.
"The West is not just going to give up easily to let Iran be, you know, the naught boy in the area," Zadeh said. "I'm sure there will be more sanctions and more suggestions to increase pressure on Iran."
What is not clear is if China and possibly Russia, both with veto power in the Security Council, would go along.
The Obama administration could pursue tougher unilateral moves. There are reports it could target with international businesses that deal with Iran in a bid to isolate the nation economically.
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