Saturday, June 24, 2006

Iranian official rules out end to enrichment - now or ever

Saturday, June 24, 2006

--Iran said Friday that suspending uranium enrichment will be neither a pre-condition for talks with world powers on its suspected nuclear activities nor an outcome of those discussions.

"Iran considers that suspension is neither a pre-condition to nor the result of negotiations," Javad Vaidi, deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told AFP.

The five permanent UN Security Council members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus Germany have offered Iran a package of incentives if it agrees to temporarily halt uranium enrichment.

That work is at the center of fears that the hard-line regime could acquire nuclear weapons, though Tehran insists its enrichment activity is only to provide fuel for nuclear energy.

Vaidi was speaking by telephone from Vienna, where he said Thursday night that having nuclear weapons "would go against the national interests of Iran's security."

At a meeting organized by Austria's far-right Freedom Party, he said that if Iran owned nuclear weapons the United States would gather the country's neighbors "under a military umbrella" against Tehran, according to the APA news agency.

That would give Israel a pretext to back weapons of mass destruction, he said.

Diplomats have said Iran was asked to reply by June 29 to the offer of incentives, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday Tehran would take until August 22 to answer.

Vaidi said that the conditional offer contained "fundamental uncertainties."

"Everything depends on the formula: to know who is ready for what and when to guarantee Iran's right to continue developing peaceful nuclear technology," he said, rejecting any possible ultimatum from the United States.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said the US is intent on toppling Tehran's government whatever happens in talks over its nuclear plans, Britain's The Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.

"The nuclear issue is just a pretext. If it was not the nuclear matter, they would have come up with something else," The Guardian quoted Ali Larijani as saying.

Larijani accused Washington of relying on force to achieve its aims in the Middle East, and said US policies in Iraq and the Palestinian territories had also complicated efforts to reach a deal over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"If they continue on the same path, the price of oil will skyrocket and it will strengthen our resolve. They want to set fire to the region," Larijani said. "The American strategy is to use force to secure their interests."

Larijani denied Iran was planning to block oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for two-fifths of all globally traded oil.

But he warned that if the United Nations Security Council took action against Iran it would "reconsider its relationship" with the International Atomic Agency, which could spell an end to UN inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities, the paper said.

Meanwhile, the former UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, called on the US to show more patience in negotiations with Iran.

"To say 'two weeks before a reply has to be given' is not necessary," Blix said in reference to pressures from Washington for Tehran to decide on the proposed package.

Blix added there had been "good progress" on Iran, and lauded the United States for agreeing to take part in negotiations. But he said that the talks should include the issue of Iran's security, and that the US should understand it may have played a role in Iran's suspected decision to seek nuclear arms.

"Iran may be worried about the 130,000 American soldiers in Iraq, and they may be worried about American bases in Pakistan or Afghanistan, but they are not worried about the Europeans," Blix said. "So if the issue of security is an important matter, then it is something that will need to come up in relations, in discussions, with the United States." - Agencies
source:daily star
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk


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