Without a commitment to halt domestic production of enriched uranium, Iran on Thursday endorsed the establishment of a fully monitored international nuclear fuel bank that could provide enriched uranium for atomic power plants.
“We are in agreement with the creation of a fuel bank and we support it since we have fuel production technology [and provided] a principal branch of this bank is established in Iran,” said Manouchehr Mottaki, the visiting Foreign Minister of Iran. Mr. Mottaki was responding to the proposal of establishing a nuclear fuel bank by Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohamed al-Khalifa at the Manama dialogue, an annual security conference hosted by Bahrain.
In his remarks on the eve of Iran's talks in Geneva with the global powers on the nuclear issue, Mr. Mottaki reiterated that Iran was not developing atomic weapons, and as a matter of principle, stood opposed to all forms of weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Mottaki stressed “the era of atomic weapons had ended”. Responding to a question, the visiting Minister said despite facing attacks by chemical weapons during the eight year Iran-Iraq war, Iran had deliberately refrained from responding in kind. “In the seven thousand years history of its civilization, Iran had never chosen to use weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Mottaki said. The Minister pitched for a time-bound elimination of all atomic weapons on the pattern of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which, he said, would result in eliminating chemical weapons by 2012.
In his address, Mr. Mottaki rejected the assertion that its rising power is a security threat to the region. On the contrary, he accused foreign presence, drawn by the region's oil resources and policies of “divide and rule” as the source of “discord” among the regional countries. Mr. Mottaki said that on account of its dependence on oil exports for its economy, it was in Iran's self-interest to promote stability in the resource rich Persian Gulf.
Speaking within days of the Wikileaks disclosures which alleged that some of the prominent leaders in the Persian Gulf had urged the United States to subject Iran to military action, Mr. Mottaki said that Iran's neighbours “must not submit to pressures by foreign powers.”
The Minister called for a new regional security architecture based on the 12-point proposal of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, aired during the Doha summit of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC).
He stressed that unlike Europe, which learnt to cooperate with each other after centuries of conflict, Iran and its neighbours must quickly learn to work together based on their “indigenous” strengths and capabilities.