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. Iran will continue nuclear talks but rejects threats: Rafsanjani
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 29, 2004
Influential former president Hashemi Rafsanjani said Friday that Iran would continue talks with Europe over its nuclear activities but reject any threats aimed at depriving the country of peaceful nuclear technology.

"We agree to continue negotiations within the framework of international rules but if the Europeans want to use threats, there is no more place for negotiations," Rafsanjani said on state radio.

Iran and three European nations -- Britain, France and Germany -- failed on Wednesday to agree on getting Tehran to suspend all uranium enrichment activities, but further talks are due to be held.

"We have the feeling that the Europeans are now more serious and the hope of arriving at an acceptable point exists," Rafsanjani said.

He also expressed his hope that the European three "do not become an instrument in the hands of the Americans".

Washington charges that Iran is using its nuclear programme as a cover for efforts to develop a nuclear bomb, allegations vehemently denied by Tehran.

Tehran now has to prove to the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that it is not pursuing the bomb or risk being hauled in front of the UN Security Council to face sanctions.

Iran's supreme guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Wednesday that Tehran could break off nuclear talks with the international community if it insisted on a long-term suspension of uranium enrichment, a key stage in the nuclear cycle.

"I say to those negotiating with representatives of the Iranian people not to lead us to the conclusion, through unjust and illogical words, that they do not believe in negotiations based on logic, because in that case, the people and the Islamic regime will leave the negotiating table," he said.

"Long-term suspension of enrichment is an illogical demand," said Khamenei, quoted on the state television Al-Alam.

"When there is a logical demand such as inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, we have accepted. But when there is a threat, we have resisted and will resist," Khamenei added.

The Iranian parliament is due Sunday to debate a bill which would force Iran's reformist government to resume uranium enrichment, a process that can be used for peaceful or military purposes, in defiance of the IAEA.

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