Iran: We're Ready to Negotiate Over Nuclear Program

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Monday said Tehran was "ready for any kind of negotiation to achieve our rights," renewing a call for further talks on the Islamic republic's atomic program.

As officials from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members gathered in Paris to discuss strategy, Ali Larijani also called again for Iran's dispute with the international community to be returned to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, headed by Mohamed ElBaradei.

"Let's allow Mr. ElBaradei to do his job based on the international conventions," Larijani told group of students in Tehran University, the official Iranian news agency reported.

Diplomats representing the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, which hold Security Council vetoes, meet in Paris on Tuesday with Germany to discuss ElBaradei's report to the council that Iran was in violation of the council's demand that Tehran stop enriching uranium, a process that can produce fuel for a nuclear reactor or fissile material for a bomb.

The report opened the way for the council to take punitive measures against Iran, but immediate action was not seen as likely because Russia and China now are opposed to international sanctions against Tehran at this point.

Iran contends it has a right to enrich uranium as long as it does not attempt to use it for nuclear weapons. Its opponents contend Iran ceded that right by conducting secret nuclear research and development.

Earlier Monday, government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham told reporters Tehran had earmarked $242.5 million for the completion of the Bushehr reactor in southwest Iran.

Larijani said Bushehr would go on stream in 2007. Iran had expected the plant, which was built with Russian help, to be in operation by the end of this year.