U.S. President Backs Russian Plan for Iran’s Uranium Enrichment

President George W. Bush gave public backing to a Russian compromise plan to end the Iran nuclear, as well as China and the chief of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. According to the plan, Russia would manufacture nuclear fuel for Iran and collect the waste to prevent the development of nuclear arms, AFP reported Thursday.

The U.S. State Department has expressed fears that Iran could be seeking to buy time through the Russian proposal, but Bush said Russia had come up with “a good plan”.

“The Russians came up with the idea and I support it. And the reason why I think it makes sense is because I do believe people ought to be allowed to have civilian nuclear power.

”However, I don’t believe nontransparent regimes that threaten the security of the world should be allowed to gain the technologies necessary to make a weapon. And the Iranians have said, ’We want a weapon’. And it’s not in the world’s interests that they have a weapon.“

Bush stressed that the United States want to end the crisis through diplomatic efforts and the same message was given by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a video address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

But she said Iran’s nuclear program poses a ”significant danger“ and that the international community should ”react strongly“ and haul Tehran before the UN Security Council for action.

”Now when we’re in the Security Council there will be many options available to the Security Council, but we believe that that is only the start of a new phase of diplomacy,“ she said.

”A certain set of negotiations will have failed, but … we will still have diplomatic means to try and get Iran to return to more sensible policies.“

The IAEA is to meet on Feb. 2 in Vienna to discuss a referral.

The United States and European Union have expressed fears that Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful civilian purposes, could be a cover for developing nuclear weapons.

Washington has lobbied aggressively for international support to get the case referred to the UN Security Council and the U.S. ambassador to New Delhi was summoned by the Indian foreign ministry over comments linking a historic nuclear deal with the United States to India’s stance on Iran.

China, is also reluctant to see UN action, and on Thursday it backed the Russian plan as Iran’s top security envoy met with Chinese officials in Beijing.

”We think the suggestion would be a good attempt at breaking the stalemate,“ Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said. He reaffirmed China’s opposition to sanctions.

Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said Wednesday in Moscow that the government ”positively“ welcomes the Russian plan which could be ”perfected“ in talks with Russian officials next month.

In Beijing, he held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and other senior officials on Thursday.

The European Union has also welcomed the Russian plan, while at the same time saying it was sceptical about Iran’s motives in accepting it.

EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferreo-Waldner called the Russian idea ”interesting“ but added: ”Given its previous rejection, I think we are rather skeptical“ about Iran’s interest.
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