Iran: Resumed Nuke Talks in Everyone's Interest

Published October 09, 2005

| Associated Press

An Iranian official said Saturday it would be in the interests of both Iran and the West to hold unconditional talks on resolving suspicions about Tehran's nuclear program.

Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization (search), reiterated that Iran would not accept any conditions for resuming talks with the European Union that broke off in August, an allusion to demands that Iran again halt its uranium conversion operations.

"If the case could be settled through practical, logical, legal and technical solutions then the positive result of the negotiations will be in favor of Iran as well as Europe and the United States," Saeedi was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

He added that talks were preferable to threats, an apparent reference to a recent resolution passed by the U.N. nuclear agency warning Iran it will be referred to the U.N. Security Council (search) (search) for possible sanctions unless it allays fears about its nuclear program.

Washington accuses Iran of trying to build atomic bombs — a charge Iran denies, saying its program is aimed only at producing electricity. Urged on by the EU, the International Atomic Energy Agency (search) has called on Iran to halt uranium enrichment activities until it disproves the accusation.

"If Europe chooses a radical stance to confront Iran and refers the country to the Security Council, we will use our options," Saeedi said.

Iran has threatened to block U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities unless the IAEA steps back. It also warns it could go beyond its resumed conversion of uranium into gas and start the next step in uranium enrichment, which produces material suitable for both nuclear reactor fuel in electricity generation and for atomic weapons.

Saeedi said Iran hopes to resolve its case at the November meeting of the IAEA.

The U.S. and EU want Iran to permanently stop enrichment as a confidence-building measure, something Tehran says it is not prepared to do. It rejected an EU offer of economic aid and a guaranteed supply of reactor fuel in return for scrapping its enrichment facilities.

Talks with Britain, Germany and France, which negotiated on behalf of the 25-nation EU, broke off in early August after Iran resumed uranium conversion. Tehran had suspended such work under a November 2004 deal for holding talks with the European nations.

Iran (search) and the United States have been at odds over a number of issues, including Iran's involvement in Iraq.

Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, on Saturday denied claims by President Bush that the Persian state is sheltering Islamic radicals, saying his country is committed to regional stability and security.

Mottaki's comments, reported by state-run TV, were aired after Bush reiterated accusations Thursday that Iran and its ally Syria (search) were harboring extremists wanting to undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq.

Mottaki said Washington "should learn from its loss of credibility in international public opinion on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and avoid intervening in domestic affairs of other countries."

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