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US Happy With IAEA Reduction Of Technical Assistance To Iran

White House unyielding on Iran nuclear talks
Washington (AFP) Feb 12 - The White House said Monday that Iran needed to halt sensitive nuclear work, downplaying comments from Tehran's top nuclear negotiator that the Islamic republic was prepared to resume talks. "The Iranians know not merely what they need to say, but what they need to do," spokesman Tony Snow told reporters. "They need to step away from doing enrichment and reprocessing activities, and also from developing a nuclear program that could yield nuclear weapons," the spokesman said, renewing Washington's longstanding conditions. Iran risks more extensive economic sanctions if it fails to comply with a UN Security Council deadline of February 21 to stop uranium enrichment.

Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told the Munich Conference on Security Policy Sunday that Iran was prepared to limit enrichment "to certain levels." The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Tehran, which insists its atomic program is for peaceful purposes. Snow reiterated Washington's offer to help Iran build a civilian nuclear power program, but stressed that "they ought to be able to have nuclear power without having the capacity to develop nuclear weapons, with the ability to threaten their neighbors. "And should they decide to move in that direction -- we have made very generous offers in terms of how we're going to respond," said Snow.

by Staff Writers
Vienna (AFP) Feb 12, 2007
The United States signalled Monday that the UN atomic agency's cuts in aid to Iran met requirements for tough measures intended to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions. The International Atomic Energy Agency's reduction of technical aid to Iran's nuclear program by nearly a half appears to comply with sanctions levied by the UN Security Council, the US ambassador to the IAEA told AFP Monday.

"Our preliminary analysis is that the IAEA approach meets the requirements of UNSCR 1737," the Security Council resolution adopted December 23, Gregory Schulte said.

"We are still carefully studying the (IAEA) report," issued last Friday, Schulte added.

It was the first US reaction since the IAEA reported that it had frozen almost half its assistance programmes to Iran as part of the United Nations sanctions. The United States had wanted sharp cuts.

Security Council resolution 1737 called for stopping IAEA aid to Iran that could possibly help it make nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear program is for electricity generation. Washington says Tehran is secretly developing the bomb.

Last Friday's report by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei came ahead of a meeting of the agency's 35-nation board of governors in March that will review aid, as well as another report by ElBaradei on whether Iran is honouring UN calls for it to suspend sensitive nuclear fuel work.

Out of 55 national and regional projects that the IAEA has with Iran, 22, or 40 percent, were either totally or partially frozen, said the confidential report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

Though the measures have been taken, the IAEA's board of governors could alter them when it reviews the report in the meeting in Vienna starting March 5.

"We have received the IAEA report and are pleased that the IAEA has decided to cut technical assistance to 22 projects," Schulte said.

"We appreciate the due diligence and careful work that the IAEA put into producing" the report.

Schulte said Tehran must "understand that it will not be 'business as usual'" as long as Iran "does not enact the suspension of proliferation-sensitive activities the UN Security Council has mandated, and continues on the path toward nuclear weapons."

Schulte said Iran must take action to meet UN demands rather than merely offer new talks.

Tehran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told a security conference in Germany on Sunday that Iran was ready to return to the negotiating table.

"We've heard a lot of talk before. We are really looking for action," Schulte said, in comments reported by his spokesman.

Nuclear talks between the European Union and Iran collapsed last year, leading to the UN Security Council imposing in December sanctions on Tehran for failing to stop enriching uranium, which makes fuel for civilian power reactors but also atom bomb material.

ElBaradei had in January proposed a "time out" in the confrontation, saying that in simultaneous moves Iran should suspend enrichment and the United Nations hold off on sanctions.

This is unacceptable to the United States which wants Iran to honour the UN Security Council call in a resolution for it to first, and unconditionally, stop all work on enriching uranium.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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