Greece joins Iran dispute

Greece added its voice yesterday to calls for Iran to cooperate in diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the disagreement over Tehran’s nuclear program as the country’s top negotiator held talks in Athens. Ali Larijani met with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis to discuss the growing international standoff over Tehran’s decision to enrich uranium amid fears it could develop nuclear weapons. Bakoyannis urged Tehran «to work in a constructive spirit with the rest of the international community so we can have a positive outcome that will suit everybody.» Greece currently holds an important position in this dispute as it is a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and sits on the Board of the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), which has been overseeing the matter. Bakoyannis said Greece’s position was based on five key factors: opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons; sharing the concern of the international community over recent developments; belief in the central roles of the UN and IAEA; trust in diplomacy; and belief that there is time to find a diplomatic solution. The foreign minister said Athens supported the suggestion by Russia that Iran could take its uranium there to be enriched. Larijani said Iran was keen on this idea but wanted more time to mull it over. He also said Tehran did not want nuclear weapons, was not intending to leave the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and that it would cooperate with the IAEA as long as it was responsible for handling the dispute rather than the UN. «There must be a balance between the rights and the obligations stemming from the NPT,» Larijani said. «It is not fair that we should have all the obligations but not enjoy the rights.»