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Iran Shuns Europe, U.S. in Nuke Talks

Iran (search) on Sunday rejected what it termed conditional negotiations with Europe over Tehran's nuclear program and said it wanted instead to have talks with the U.N.'s international nuclear watchdog agency.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi (search) said any future nuclear negotiations would not include the United States, which contends Iran wants to build atomic weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is solely to produce electricity.

"Since Europe has demanded conditional negotiations, Iran will not accept that and negotiations won't be held," Asefi told reporters. "We are interested in negotiations and working with the International Atomic Energy Agency, as our partner."

Earlier this week Britain's Foreign Office said there was "no basis for negotiations with Iran until they respond" to an IAEA (search) resolution adopted earlier this month that calls on Iran to suspend uranium reprocessing activities at its Isfahan plant.

The EU countries called off a negotiating session scheduled for Aug. 31 because of the resumption of work there.

Asefi said Iran supported negotiations with all countries but activities at Isfahan would never stop.

On Wednesday, Iran had said it was preparing new nuclear proposal that was intended for use in talks with Europe. Asefi said it still would be issued within 45 days and was designed boost Iran's right to have the full nuclear fuel cycle.

Ali Larijani, Tehran's top nuclear negotiator, said Friday that Iran would not negotiate away its right to enrich uranium and shrugged off threats of possible U.N. action, which could include sanctions. A day earlier he had called on more countries to joint the three European negotiators, France, Britain and Germany.

The three countries, negotiating with Iran on behalf of the European Union, sought to persuade Iran to give up its uranium enrichment program in return for economic incentives, a proposal Iran has rejected. At the same time, Iran reactivated uranium conversion at its Isfahan nuclear facility, a precursor to uranium enrichment.

Enrichment is one of the final stages in the nuclear fuel process which Iran froze last November in conjunction with its negotiations with the Europeans. The enrichment process can produce either the fuel needed for a reactor or material used in creating a nuclear bomb.