TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday rejected demands that Tehran suspend uranium enrichment activities, saying his government was determined to continue pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Ahmadinejad spoke after top Iranian and European negotiators ended their latest round of talks in Berlin, saying they had "come to some positive conclusions" but failed to reach an agreement.
"They asked for a one-day halt (of uranium enrichment). We said we won't do it," Ahmadinejad told thousands of people Thursday in Karaj, west of the capital Tehran.
Ahmadinejad said the U.S. and its European allies wanted Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities in order to force a permanent halt, because they were opposed to Tehran's progress. But he said Iran would not give in.
"Those who have filled their arsenal with nuclear weapons and conduct new tests every day want on political pretexts to deny the Iranian nation its full definite right of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," he told the crowd.
"The Iranian nation won't give in to one iota of coercion," he added.
In Berlin, Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said the talks had produced "some positive conclusions," but would not reveal any details.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana also spoke positively about the discussions.
"We have been progressing," Solana said after the latest round of talks. "But still, we have some issues, that have been put but have not been closed."
Ahmadinejad said the Europeans have asked Iran during negotiations to suspend uranium enrichment citing technical problems, but Iran rejected their demand.
"They (Europeans) asked us to suspend work for three months. ... Three months suspension means a huge loss, means three months reversal from technology. Who will pay for the losses? ... Then they reached a point that they asked for a one day halt. We said we won't do it," he said.
Iran has ignored a U.N. Security Council resolution to halt uranium enrichment by Aug. 31. Enrichment can produce either fuel for a reactor or material for a warhead.
Six countries — the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany — have offered Iran a package of incentives in return for Tehran in return for suspending its uranium enrichment and returning to full-scale negotiations. The six are considering seeking sanctions in the U.N. Security Council if Tehran does not comply.
The United States and several of its allies believe Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran maintains its program is peaceful and merely aimed at generating electricity.
Iran has said it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel but at times has indicated it may temporarily suspend large-scale activities to ease tensions.