Iran unmoved before nuke talks

The 11th-hour discussions are to focus on a Kremlin-conceived plan to work with Iranian officials to jointly enrich uranium on Russian soil, for nuclear fuel to be used in Iran.

It’s an attempt to take the most sensitive steps in the nuclear process out of Iran’s hands, which is hoped to appease suspicious western nations. But Moscow suggests this only happen until Tehran answers questions surrounding its intentions.

The US maintains that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are “not a peaceful program” and allege that the nation aims to secretly make nuclear arms. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stopped short of that claim but said there are still questions about Iran’s nuclear program. The US has called on the UN Security Council to step in and take action.

Ali Larijani, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, will lead a delegation due to arrive in Moscow on Wednesday into closed-door talks with Russian officials.

So far Iran has refused to go ahead with the Russian uranium enrichment proposal that has been backed by the West.

In an interview to be published in this week’s edition of US weekly magazine Time, Mr Larijani said Iran would not back down in the face of the West’s threats to haul it before the Security Council.

“If they think that we are going to surrender by threats of being referred to the (UN) Security Council, they are making a mistake,” Mr Larijani told Time.

Earlier the Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki said nuclear energy was Iran’s right.

“We would like to enjoy the right like Japan to have nuclear technology, of course for peaceful purposes,” he told reporters in Tokyo on a last-minute diplomatic drive to ward off UN Security Council action.

The Moscow talks come just five days before the board of governors of the IAEA is scheduled to decide whether to move debate of the Iran nuclear issue to the UN Security Council, which can impose economic sanctions.

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