Iran welcomes West’s new ‘realism’ on nuclear drive

TEHRAN - Iran on Tuesday welcomed what it called the West’s newfound “realism” on Tehran’s controversial atomic programme after world powers failed to decide on new sanctions.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 21 Jan 2010, 1:39 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:40 AM

Britain, meanwhile, warned of punitive financial measures against Iran’s regime after China urged flexibility on the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear drive and a return to talks.

However, Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi renewed a warning that Tehran’s forces could hit Western warships in the Gulf if it comes under attack over the nuclear standoff.

On the diplomatic front, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters: “Speaking of sanctions is repetitive and it is not constructive.

“Some Western countries... should correct their approach and be realistic about our (nuclear) rights. And we feel there are traces of realism to be seen,” he added.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki made similar positive comments.

“We are ready to help with the realistic approach and at the same time we will wait for public and backstage developments in Iran’s nuclear case,” Mottaki told reporters.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said financial sanctions could help bring the Islamic state into line.

“We believe that financial sanctions... have an important role to play in exerting pressure at the appropriate points in the (Iranian) regime and not affecting the Iranian people,” Miliband told lawmakers.

World powers made up of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany met in New York on Saturday but failed to reach an agreement about new sanctions.

The six are concerned about Tehran’s rejection of a UN-brokered deal under which most of Iran’s low enriched uranium (LEU) stockpile would be shipped abroad to be further enriched into reactor fuel.

Iran has come up with its own counter-proposal of a staged and simultaneous swap of LEU with nuclear reactor fuel. This has been largely rejected by world powers, insisting Tehran accept the International Atomic Energy Agency offer.

The New York meeting brought together senior officials from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. But China, signalling its reluctance to back tougher sanctions pushed by the West, sent a lower-level diplomat.

In Beijing, Mehmanparast’s opposite number, Ma Zhaoxu, also at a press conference on Tuesday, said: “China has all along proposed the proper settlement of the Iran nuclear issue through dialogue and consultation ...

“We hope relevant parties can enhance consultations, show flexibility and promote the early peaceful solution of the relevant issue in a proper manner.”

Ma said his country was aware of the proliferation concerns of the Western nations but insisted the Islamic republic had the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Iran’s defence minister reiterated that his country was not cowed by the threat of military action.

“Why are there so many warships there? The Westerners know that these warships are the best target for operation by Iran if they do anything against (us),” Vahidi said.

Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened to deliver a “crushing response” and hit US targets, including its bases in the Gulf and neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan, if Iran’s nuclear sites are attacked.

The United States and its regional ally Israel, which accuse Iran of seeking atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, have never ruled out a military option to thwart Tehran’s nuclear drive.

Iran denies the charges.

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