On the eve of Iran-EU talks about its nuclear program, a meeting in Luxembourg of European Union ministers "passed a regulation on Monday implementing U.N. measures targeted against individuals and entities involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs, adding a further list of persons to the visa ban and assets freeze," Reuters reported Monday.[1]  --  "The list was not immediately made public but diplomats said it contained 15 nuclear officials, scientists, and Revolutionary Guards commanders and 8 entities including subsidiaries of defense and aerospace companies and of state-owned Bank Sepah," said Parisa Hafezi and Paul Taylor.  --  In addition, "[t]he EU also imposed a total arms embargo on Iran."  --  Prior to the measure, EU diplomatic chief Javier Solana had raised hopes that by meeting with Iran's top negotiator on the nuclear issue, Ali Larijani, in Ankara on Wednesday they might "move to a negotiation." [2] --  The EU resolution was followed by an uncompromising restatement of Iran's position by President Ahmadinejad in a Reuters interview,[3] leaving little hope of any diplomatic progress soon.  --  Some remarks by Ahmadinejad:  "America's problem in Iraq is America itself."  --  "I doubt there is such will in America (to attack Iran) . . . but anyway under any circumstances, we will defend our rights . . . as an independent nation we can protect our integrity.  Naturally, when a nation becomes under attack it will use appropriate measures to respond . . . and like any other nation we have various ways to respond.  Iran's foreign policy is based on peace and friendship, Iran will not attack any country but if attacked we would defend ourselves with full power."  --  "We have doubts about the West's intentions . . . The best proposal is to accept the Iranian nation's rights.  We are honest when we say our nuclear work is peaceful . . . and when we say we will preserve it, we are serious about it."  --  (NOTE:  This tone bears a strange resemblance to that found in Thucydides's famous Melian dialogue.  As Peter Gainsford observes, "Thucydides' ideas about international politics, power, and the reasons for conflict are as scary today as they were in Ancient Greece.  As a mental experiment, try substituting another nation starting with 'A' for the Athenians, and take note of how much of this dialogue still rings true.") ...


1.

World

AHMADINEJAD DAMPENS HOPES OF EU-IRAN PROGRESS
By Parisa Hafezi and Paul Taylor

Reuters
April 23, 2007

Original source: Reuters

TEHRAN/LUXEMBOURG -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad poured cold water on Monday on prospects of a breakthrough in nuclear talks with the European Union this week, ruling out a suspension of uranium enrichment.

Iran and the EU will resume talks on Tehran's nuclear program in Turkey on Wednesday after the EU endorsed sanctions against the Islamic republic going beyond U.N. resolutions.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he would meet Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, in Ankara in a fresh attempt to persuade Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment, which the West suspects is aimed at making an atomic bomb.

It will be the first such meeting since the United Nations passed fresh sanctions on Iran in March, after Tehran refused to halt its most sensitive nuclear work. Tehran says its program aims to produce power.

Ahmadinejad told Reuters in an interview: "Iran has entered the nuclear club and (the West) should accept it."

Solana's spokeswoman said the EU representative would try to persuade Larijani to accept a "double suspension" of uranium enrichment and U.N. sanctions to allow time for negotiations.

But Ahmadinejad said: "Iran will not accept it because the sanctions are not legal, so you cannot ask a country to suspend its legal activities in return for a suspension of an illegal move."

Solana told reporters he had decided to make a second attempt to break the deadlock because "I thought the situation has sufficiently matured to try again" after his first bid foundered last September on Iran's refusal to freeze enrichment.

"I don't have any guarantee that it's going to be a success, but I don't have a guarantee that it's going to be a failure."

SANCTIONS

The EU ministers passed a regulation on Monday implementing U.N. measures targeted against individuals and entities involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs, adding a further list of persons to the visa ban and assets freeze, officials said.

The list was not immediately made public but diplomats said it contained 15 nuclear officials, scientists, and Revolutionary Guards commanders and 8 entities including subsidiaries of defence and aerospace companies and of state-owned Bank Sepah.

The EU also imposed a total arms embargo on Iran.

Major powers, who drafted the sanctions resolution, have said Iran must halt uranium enrichment -- which can be used for making bombs and to generate electricity. The second resolution was a follow-up to a U.N. resolution adopted on Dec. 23.

Tehran has so far rejected freezing its enrichment work but both Iran and the big powers have offered further talks to ease the tension, although the sanctions would remain in place until Iran halted enrichment.

Iran, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, says it wants its nuclear program for generating electricity.

The major powers -- the United States, the European Union, Russia, and China -- have offered Tehran a package of economic, civil nuclear, and security incentives provided it first suspends its most sensitive nuclear work.

Iranian officials said the renewed talks with Solana were a sign the West was becoming more realistic after Tehran announced it had begun industrial-scale uranium enrichment, a claim doubted by Western and Russian officials.

Larijani told the ISNA student news agency Iran was willing to discuss safeguards to ensure no nuclear material is diverted to make weapons but he rejected what he called "pre-conditions."

Solana's spokeswoman said the talks, which would not involve Turkish officials, could last a day or two and the EU foreign policy chief hoped to brief NATO foreign ministers in Oslo on Thursday evening.

Asked why chances of a deal were any better now than last September, Solana's spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said:

"Firstly there is the full consensus of the international community, which was shown through the vote of the U.N. (sanctions) resolution a month ago, and secondly there is a total understanding by the international community and Iran that we have to solve this problem through negotiations."

(Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander and Mark John in Luxembourg, Jason Webb in Madrid and Fredrik Dahl in Tehran)

2.

Top news

EU'S SOLANA TO MEET WITH IRANIAN
By Robert Wielaard

Associated Press
April 23, 2007

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8OMBK6O0.htm

LUXEMBOURG -- Iran and the European Union were to resume talks in Turkey on Wednesday, their first since the United Nations expanded sanctions against Tehran for its nuclear work.

Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, said he was to meet with top Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani in Ankara to see if Tehran can be persuaded to halt uranium enrichment in exchange for negotiations about economic incentives.

"I am going to meet him Wednesday . . . in Ankara (to) see if we can move to a negotiation," Solana said on arrival at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. He did not elaborate.

It would be their first encounter since the United Nations slapped new sanctions on Iran in March after Tehran refused to halt its uranium enrichment work.

Also Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the EU to speak for itself in the nuclear negotiations.

"If the EU wants to have a role internationally, it needs to act independently," the Iranian president Spain's state television TVE. "If it wants to translate the words of the United States, for that we already have the United States.

"We don't need a European Union that translates the words of the United States to us," he said in Farsi through a translator.

In the Spanish TV interview, Ahmadinejad defended what he said were his country's peaceful intentions, to pursue only nuclear power. He again denied there were any plans to build nuclear weapons, as the United States says.

Solana is negotiating on behalf of permanent U.N. Security Council members France, Britain, Russia, the United States, and China, as well as Germany.

The international community wants Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment work before any talks can be held on a package of economic and other incentives for Iran, including assistance for its nuclear power generation program.

Iran has started feeding small amounts of uranium gas into centrifuges that can enrich it to weapons-grade level and is already running more than 1,300 of the machines, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency document obtained last week by the Associated Press.

The U.N. agency has protested Iran's decision to prevent U.N. inspectors from visiting the country's heavy water reactor, which, when built, will produce plutonium.

Enriched uranium and plutonium can both be used for the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

Iran denies it plans to produce nuclear weapons, saying it only wants to generate energy.

3.

Text

EXCERPTS OF REUTERS INTERVIEW WITH IRANIAN PRESIDENT

Reuters
April 23, 2007

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/HAF374684.htm

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would not halt its disputed atomic activities under any circumstances in an interview with Reuters and an Iranian television station on Monday.

Following are excerpts from the interview conducted in Persian and translated into English by Reuters:

Q: Mr President, Iran has so far refused to suspend its uranium enrichment work, what would be the basis of Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani's talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Turkey on Wednesday?

A: The dispute over Iran's nuclear work is completely a political issue, without any legal or technical aspects. Iran has never violated international laws . . . A few (Western) countries that have maximum use of nuclear technology do not want other countries to have the technology. We are among nuclear fuel producer countries . . . and there is no reason to move backwards. The negotiations between Larijani and Solana are very important and will be useful . . . to remove ambiguities and to reach an understanding.

Q: Will Iran accept double suspension of enrichment and sanctions?

A: This issue (double suspension) is meaningless and has no legal basis. Our atomic work is legal . . . You cannot ask a country to suspend its legal activities in return for a suspension of an illegal (U.N. resolution) . . . The term 'double-suspension' is a wrong term.

Q: Why does Iran want to produce nuclear fuel?

A: Iran's aim is clear . . . Based on our experiences, if any country wants to use nuclear technology for various peaceful purposes it should produce the fuel itself. Iran is a member of the nuclear club and all the countries should accept it.

Q: If international pressure mounts on Iran to suspend its nuclear work, what would be Iran's practical steps considering the authority given to you by parliament to review the level of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency? And also in case of wider U.N. sanctions, will Iran use its oil exports as a weapon?

A: Iran's history shows that the Iranian nation can resist pressures and has the power to transform threats to opportunities. So far Iran's peaceful atomic work has always been in the framework of law and we like to continue so. We are the only country whose atomic work is directly under IAEA supervision . . . We are reluctant to enter such atmosphere . . . ambiguities can be removed through talks. Our nation has learned to defend itself. Of course we are not interested in using oil as a weapon.

Q: What do you think about possible talks between Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his American counterpart Condoleezza Rice? Iran says America has changed its tone towards Iran, is Tehran ready to hold direct talks with the United States to resolve those international issues it faces?

A: We have always expressed our readiness for talks . . . We are ready to hold talks but under one condition which is the presence of international media and the talks should be broadcast live. We do not have good memories of those negotiations that the nation was not informed about.

Q: Is this a decision made by the Iranian establishment? Is there a consensus on this issue?

A: This has always been Iran's view and it is not something new. It is not a personal decision and there is a consensus about it.

Q: How can Iran help the United States to resolve Iraq's problems and is Iran ready to participate in the meeting of Iraq's neigboring countries which is going to be held in Egypt?

A: America's problem in Iraq is America itself . . . their point of view towards regional issues is wrong because American authorities think they can solve problems by using military force and missiles . . . If America changes its behavior those problems will be solved . . . we have previously said it, publicly and through messages, right now also we are ready to show the way to resolve Iraq's problem . . . the solution is that the American government should have a humanitarian view towards Iraq.

Q: What would be Iran's reaction if attacked by the United States?

A: The era of threatening other countries with bombings and missiles has past . . . especially those who think they can pressure Iran by using the language of threat, are mistaken . . . I doubt there is such will in America (to attack Iran) . . . but anyway under any circumstances, we will defend our rights . . . as an independent nation we can protect our integrity. Naturally, when a nation becomes under attack it will use appropriate measures to respond . . . and like any other nation we have various ways to respond.

Iran's foreign policy is based on peace and friendship, Iran will not attack any country but if attacked we would defend ourselves with full power.

Q: I would like to repeat my question, will Iran attend the meeting for Iraq's neighboring countries?

A: We are reviewing it, we are in talks with our Iraqi friends over this issue.

Q: Is Iran prepared for further U.N. sanctions which can push the country towards isolation? Do you not think it will put more economic pressure on the nation?

A: Sanctions are meaningless today. Nations will not accept such pressures anymore . . . being isolated is irrelevant . . . our nation's path is clear, we believe those who want to isolate us will be isolated themselves.

Q: Is there any possible proposal that may persuade Tehran to suspend its nuclear activities even for a short period of time?

A: Why this suspension issue is so important and why there is such pressure to achieve it . . . which advantages it might bring that they want to reach it under any circumstances even for a short term . . . suspension of legal activities does not exist in any international law . . . There must be a political reason behind this demand . . . We have doubts about the West's intentions . . . The best proposal is to accept the Iranian nation's rights. We are honest when we say our nuclear work is peaceful . . . and when we say we will preserve it, we are serious about it.

Q: What does Iran exactly want from the United States? What can the United States do to persuade Tehran to hold direct talks?

A: They cannot use the language of threat against a nation . . . and use U.N. resolutions as a stick to force us to abandon our nuclear work. It cannot be accepted by any nation. They should act honestly. In that case, the Iranian nation will have no problem (for direct talks) about international issues . . . in presence of international media.