Iranian Negotiator Would Welcome US Help | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 25.02.2005
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Iranian Negotiator Would Welcome US Help

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator in Berlin on Friday said he would welcome US assistance in the talks over his country's controversial nuclear program. But a senior Iranian cleric accused Europeans of stalling for time.


Hasan Rowhani is Iran's top negotiator for nuclear issues

"The negotiating partners are the three European nations," Iran's negotiator Hassan Rowhani said, but "Iran would welcome it if the United States helped."

Germany, France and Britain are seeking to persuade Iran to abandon the nuclear fuel cycle that can be used to make atomic weapons, in return for a lucrative economic package. But the United States suspects Iran is developing a nuclear weapon and is skeptical about the progress of the talks with the Europeans.

White House national security advisor Stephen Hadley said this week: "The question is how can we help. It's not just a question of the carrots and sticks discussion."

Rowhani was speaking the day after Iran said it opposed any US role in the talks alongside the European Union nations. Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Thursday that "if the Americans joined the talks, the best that could happen is that they would bring nothing to the negotiations and in the worst case scenario they would sabotage everything."

US President George W. Bush said in Bratislava on Thursday, on the final leg of his European trip, that the United States and Europe were "on the same page" over Iran, which represented his strongest endorsement yet of the EU talks. Washington still wants to bring Iran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Refusal to abandon enrichment

The Europeans are trying, however, to persuade Iran to comply with international obligations in return for trade, security and technology deals. Iran insists its nuclear program is a peaceful effort to make electricity but refuses to abandon uranium enrichment, saying it has the right to carry out enrichment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian cleric on Friday accused Europeans of stalling for time in their negotiations over Iran's nuclear program and pledged that Iran will resume uranium enrichment if negotiations break down.

"Europeans are killing time; Negotiations are going on but the achievement we expected has not been reached yet." said Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, a hardline cleric who heads the powerful watchdog body that vets all legislation and candidates for public office.

"We will wait for a while and if the negotiations do not reach the desired result, we will resume our work (uranium enrichment)." Janati said in a weekly prayer sermon broadcast live on state radio. "They must not hope they can go on with suspension until enrichment is stopped. Europeans must not be acting under America's pressure," Janati said.

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