Iran agrees to discuss its nuclear program
TEHRAN, Iran – Hardening its position ahead of next week's nuclear talks with the world powers, Iran's president vowed Tuesday his country would not make "one iota" of concessions over its nuclear rights.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that a breakthrough could only be expected only if the new talks are held under "equal" conditions and if Iran's rights are respected.
"If you want results from the talks, you must put aside the devil's temper and sit together under equal conditions on the basis of justice and respect ... and talk about various economic and nuclear fields, reach a deal and do joint work," Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.
The European Union said Iran agreed to talks next week in Geneva and its top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili will meet with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Dec. 6 and 7.
Her office said she will act "on behalf" of the U.S., China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany — six nations representing the international community in its standoff over Iran's nuclear program.
Officials from the six nations are expected to attend the Geneva talks.
The meeting was set after several weeks of proposals and counterproposals about a suitable venue and will be the first talks in a year after negotiations bogged down.
Addressing a crowd in Sari, north Iran, Ahmadinejad was quick to say that Iran wouldn't negotiate over its rights enshrined in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
As an NPT member state, Iran said it has every right to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel.
"Iran has not and will not allow anybody in the talks to withdraw one iota of the rights of the Iranian nation," he said.
Ahmadinejad spoke a day after yet unidentified assailants on motorcycles attached magnetized bombs to the cars of two nuclear scientists in Tehran, killing one and wounding another, who was on a U.N. sanctions list. Iran has accused Israel and the West of being behind the attacks.
The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is merely geared towards generating electricity and producing medical isotopes for patients.
The U.S. wants Tehran to fully open all facilities to international inspection and to give up uranium enrichment, a key element that could give it a pathway to a bomb. Iran says it has a right to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel.
Last month, the EU rejected Istanbul as a venue saying there was no need for another regional power to get involved.
Negotiations foundered a year ago over a U.N.-drafted proposal for Iran to ship most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing and to be returned in the form of fuel rods for a Tehran research reactor that makes isotopes used in cancer treatment.
Associated Press Writer Robert Wielaard contributed to this report from Brussels.