Published September 12, 2004
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran on Sunday rejected demands by Europe's three major powers to abandon its uranium enrichment program but reasserted its readiness to provide guarantees it will not build a nuclear weapon.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi (search) said Iran already has the technology required to develop nuclear fuel and would not reverse the situation.
"If the demand is that we don't master nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, it's out of the question because we have reached that point," Asefi told a news conference.
"But if Europeans want assurances that we only make peaceful use of nuclear energy, we are ready to give guarantees," he said.
Asefi said the guarantees Iran was prepared to offer will be within the framework of an extension of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (search).
According to a confidential document made available to The Associated Press on Saturday, Britain, France and Germany have agreed to give Iran a November deadline for complying with concerns about its nuclear capability.
Prepared for Monday's start of a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (search), the document proposes a so-called "trigger mechanism," warning of possible "further steps" — which diplomats defined as shorthand for referral of Iran's case to the U.N. Security Council.
The document brings the three European countries closer to the U.S. position on what to do about Iran's nuclear program. Washington insists Tehran is covertly trying to build a nuclear bomb.
Up to now, the three European countries have resisted U.S. attempts to have Iran hauled before the Security Council.