Iran will not stop uranium enrichment: top aide

Iran will not stop uranium enrichment: top aide

A top aide to Iran’s supreme leader said Friday that Tehran will not stop enriching uranium as a precondition for entering nuclear talks with six world powers.

“It is a principle that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not retreat from (uranium) enrichment,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, a top advisor on foreign affairs to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in comments reported by the ISNA news agency.

However, he added: “We will study any proposal by the countries who are involved with our nuclear case.”

Velayati stressed that the proposals would be studied within the framework of the Islamic republic’s “principles,” among them being the “continuation of peaceful (uranium) enrichment”.

“We will not give up (uranium enrichment), but it does not mean we are rejecting the negotiations.”

Velayati, Iran’s former foreign minister from 1981 until 1997, credited Iran’s “insistence” on its nuclear rights for leading world powers to offer an incentive package aimed at securing a halt to sensitive enrichment work.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attending the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization told journalists that the incentive proposal was a “step forward” that would be carefully considered.

His announcement came a day after Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic regime would not bow to pressure over its atomic program.

Washington believes Iran is secretly trying to build nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear power program. Tehran denies the accusation, but insists that it has the same right as any country to develop its own nuclear power.

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