World must allow Iran’s uranium program: Mottaki

by Reiji Yoshida

Iran will not stop its uranium enrichment efforts and other countries should ensure it has the right to have a nuclear program for “peaceful purposes,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday.

Mottaki cited Article 4 of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which obliges member countries with nuclear technology to help “nonnuclear-weapon” countries develop peaceful applications of nuclear energy.

“All the countries should support the same right for Iran,” the minister said in a speech at the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo.

“We have nothing to hide,” he said, reiterating Tehran’s claim that its domestic uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes only.

But many countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency suspect otherwise and are urging Iran to stop its enrichment program. It passed a resolution Feb. 4 to send the issue to the U.N. Security Council for discussion.

To break the nuclear standoff with Iran, Russia has proposed a compromise, in which the two nations set up a joint uranium enrichment program outside Iran.

Mottaki said the negotiations with Russia were ongoing, and the two sides were focusing on where they could carry out a joint project and how long it would last.

Iran thinks the length of time for a joint project should be “as short as possible,” Mottaki said.