Iran again rejects suspension of uranium project

Iran again rejects suspension of uranium project

Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Larijani has told the European Union there was no chance Tehran would suspend its programme of uranium enrichment, state television reported on Thursday.

He made the comments in a telephone conversation on Wednesday with the EU’s top diplomat, Javier Solana.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to negotiate only on non-diversion (of its nuclear programme for military purposes) and not on its nuclear rights,” Larijani was quoted as saying by an official of the supreme council for national security, which he heads.

“Iran will not accept any preconditions or suspension for a time. Nor can suspending enrichment be a precondition or the result of negotiations” with the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, he was quoted as saying.

Solana has been charged with trying to entice Tehran back to the negotiating table.

“There was a conversation yesterday,” an EU official said on Thursday in Brussels on condition of anonymity. “They agreed to keep in contact, but only by telephone for now.”

The aim of the talks is to try to find common ground to resume the negotiations on the basis of a previous offer made by the international community, the official added.

The offer includes political, economic and trade incentives for Iran to halt uranium enrichment, which is necessary to produce nuclear energy but can also be used to make an atomic bomb at highly refined levels.

Western countries fear that Tehran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon covertly under the guise of a civilian energy programme.

Iran says it simply wants to generate electricity and has refused to suspend enrichment as a precondition for talks.

The UN Security Council has imposed two sets of sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme, and the United States has never ruled out the option of military action to bring Iran to heel.

The White House on Thursday declined to call Iran’s release a day earlier of 15 captive British sailors and marines a new sign of goodwill, and said Tehran must freeze sensitive nuclear work.

“What would show that they are more in line with the international community is to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions, and suspend their uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities,” national security council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters.

“We’re pleased that they released the sailors. We just wish they hadn’t detained them in the first place.”

Meanwhile, it was announced that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit the key Iranian nuclear plant in the central city of Natanz on Monday to mark the national day of nuclear technology.

He has promised that he will soon be announcing “good news” about Iran’s nuclear programme, and news of his visit is likely to fuel speculation he will choose the occasion to make an important announcement.

The head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, had said on Monday that the Islamic republic would be announcing good news on its nuclear programme next week.

Natanz is the where Iran carries out its uranium enrichment.

Iran has vowed to install thousands of uranium enriching centrifuges at the plant to bring its enrichment to an industrial scale but so far it has only confirmed the completion of a fraction of this number.

Information from: AFP via Yahoo News

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