Iran upbeat on nuclear visit, delays EU bill

Iran lạc quan về chuyến viếng thăm của Cơ quan Năng lượng Hạt nhân

Sat, Jan 28 2012

 

Herman Nackerts (L), head of a delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), talks to journalists on his way to Iran at the international airport in Vienna January 28, 2012. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

Herman Nackerts (L), head of a delegation (trưởng phái đoàn ) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), talks to journalists on his way to Iran at the international airport in Vienna January 28, 2012.

Credit: (Bản quyền hình ảnh) : Reuters/Herwig Prammer

By Parisa Hafezi and Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN | Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:24am EST

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran Sunday declared itself optimistic about a U.N. experts’ visit aimed at probing suspected military aspects of its nuclear work and lawmakers postponed debate on a proposed halt to oil flows (vận chuyển dầu) to the European Union watched closely (đang được theo dõi sát sao) in energy markets.

A team of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors began a three-day visit to try to advance efforts (thúc đẩy các nỗ lực) to resolve a row (giải quyết vụ tranh cãi) about nuclear work (công trình hạt nhân) which Iran says is for making electricity but the West suspects is aimed at seeking a nuclear weapon.

Tensions with the West rose (tăng lên) this month when Washington and the European Union imposed the toughest sanctions yet (sự cấm vận gắt gao nhất trước nay)  in a drive to force Tehran to provide more information on its nuclear program. The measures take direct aim at the ability of OPEC’s second biggest oil (nước sản xuất dầu lớn thứ hai) exporter to sell its crude.

The Mehr news agency quoted Foreign Minister (Ngoại trưởng) Ali Akbar Salehi as saying during a trip to Ethiopia: “We are very optimistic about the outcome of the IAEA delegation’s visit to Iran … Their questions will be answered during this visit,”

“We have nothing to hide and Iran has no clandestine (nuclear) activities.”

Striking a sterner tone (giọng điệu nghiêm trọng), Iran’s parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, warned the IAEA team to carry out a “logical, professional and technical” job or suffer the consequences (chịu hậu quả).

“This visit is a test for the IAEA. The route for further cooperation will be open if the team carries out its duties professionally,” said Larijani, state media reported.

“Otherwise, if the IAEA turns into a tool (for major powers to pressure Iran), then Iran will have no choice but to consider a new framework in its ties with the agency.”

Iran’s parliament in the past has approved bills to oblige the government to review its level of cooperation with (xem xét lại mức độ hợp tác với) the IAEA. However, Iran’s top officials (viên chức cấp cao) have always underlined the importance of (nhấn mạnh tầm quan trọng) preserving ties (duy trì các quan hệ) with the watchdog body (cơ quan giám sát).

Before departing from Vienna, IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts said he hoped the Islamic state would tackle the watchdog’s concerns “regarding the possible military dimensions (các chiều hướng quân sự) of Iran’s nuclear program.”

PARLIAMENT DEBATE

Less than one week after the EU’s 27 member states agreed to stop importing crude from Iran from July 1, Iranian lawmakers were due to debate a bill later Sunday that would cut off oil supplies to the European Union (EU) in a matter of days.

Iranian lawmakers postponed discussing (tạm ngưng thảo luận) the bill (dự luật).

“No such draft bill has yet been drawn up and nothing has been submitted to the parliament. What exists is a notion by the deputies which is being seriously pursued to bring it to a conclusive end,” Emad Hosseini, spokesman for parliament’s Energy Committee, told Mehr.

“Some MPs had an idea that should be studied by the energy committee before being drafted as a bill. We hope our discussions will be finished by Friday.”

REFINERS

By turning the sanctions back on the EU, lawmakers hope to deny the bloc a six-month window it had planned to give those of its members most dependent on Iranian oil – including some of the most economically fragile in southern Europe – to adapt.

The head of the state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC, Công ty Dầu khí Quốc gia Iran) said late Saturday that the export embargo would hit European refiners, such as Italy’s Eni, that are owed oil from Iran as part of long-standing buy-back contracts under which they take payment for past oilfield projects in crude (nhận thanh toán cho các công trình khai thác dầu khí được trả bằng dầu thô).

“The decision must be made at high echelons of power (nấc thang quyền lực) and we at the NIOC will act as the executioner of the policies of the government,” Ahmad Qalebani told the ISNA news agency.

“The European companies will have to abide by (tuân thủ) the provisions (các điều khoản) of the buyback contracts,” he said. “If they act otherwise, they will be the parties to incur the relevant losses (chịu các thiệt hại liên quan) and will subject (làm cho) the repatriation of their capital to problems.”

“Generally, the parties to incur damage from the EU’s recent decision will be European companies with pending contracts (các hợp đồng dỡ dang ) with Iran.”

Italy’s Eni is owed $1.4-1.5 billion in oil (tính bằng dầu, sẽ được thanh toán bằng dầu) for contracts it executed in Iran in 2000 and 2001 and has been assured by EU policymakers its buyback contracts will not be part of the European embargo, but the prospect of Iran acting first (khả năng hành động trước, việc khả dĩ Iran ra tay trước ) may put that into doubt.

 

Eni declined to comment  Saturday. – Eni từ chối bình luận

The EU accounted for 25 percent of Iranian crude oil sales in the third quarter of 2011. However, analysts say the global oil market will not be overly disrupted if parliament votes for the bill that would turn off the oil tap for Europe.

“The Saudis have made it clear that they’ll step in to fill the void,” said Robert Smith, a consultant at Facts Global Energy. “It would not pose any serious threat to oil market stability. Meanwhile Asians, predominantly the Chinese and Indians, stand to benefit from more Iranian crude flowing east and at potential discounts.”

Potentially more disruptive to the world oil market and global security is the risk of Iran’s standoff with the West escalating into military conflict.

Iran has repeatedly said it could close the vital Strait of Hormuz shipping lane if sanctions succeed in preventing it from exporting crude, a move Washington said it would not tolerate.

“CONSTRUCTIVE SPIRIT”

The IAEA’s visit may be an opportunity to defuse some of the tension (tháo ngòi căng thẳng). Director General Yukiya Amano has called on Iran to show a “constructive spirit” and Tehran has said it is willing to discuss “any issues” of interest to the U.N. agency, including the military-linked (có liên quan đến lĩnh vực quân sự) concerns.

But Western diplomats, who have often accused Iran of using such offers of dialogue as a stalling tactic (chiến thuật câu giờ, chiến thuật trì hoãn) while it presses ahead with its nuclear program, say they doubt Tehran will show the kind of concrete cooperation the IAEA wants.

They say Iran may offer limited concessions and transparency to try to ease intensifying international pressure, but that this is unlikely to amount to (dẫn đến) the full cooperation required.

The outcome could determine whether Iran will face further isolation or whether there are prospects for resuming wider talks between Tehran and the major powers on the nuclear row.

Salehi said Iran “soon” would write a letter to the E.U.’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to discuss “a date and venue” for fresh nuclear talks.

“Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in this letter, which may be sent in the coming days, also may mention other issues as well,” Salehi said, without elaborating.

The last round of talks in January 2011 between Jalili and Ashton, who represents major powers, failed over Iran’s refusal to halt its sensitive nuclear work.

“The talks will be successful as the other party seems interested in finding a way out of this deadlock,” Salehi said.

(Additional reporting by Hashem Kalantari, Robin Pomeroy and Hossein Jaseb in Tehran, Svetlana Kovalyova in Milan and Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; Writing by Parisa Hafezi and Robin Pomeroy; Editing by William Maclean)


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