Iran's Khamenei warns EU it may reconsider nuclear cooperation
TEHRAN (AFP) Jan 29, 2005
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned European powers Saturday that they must take their nuclear negotiations with Iran seriously, otherwise Tehran would reconsider its cooperation.
"The Europeans negotiating with Iran should know that they are dealing with a great, cultured nation... if Iranian officials feel that there is no seriousness in the European negotiations, the process will change," Khamenei was quoted as saying by the Iranian media.
His comments followed the emergence of reports that the EU was hardening its stance towards Iran and calling on Tehran to completely dismantle its nuclear fuel programme in order to guarantee that it does not seek atomic weapons.
Iran, accused by Washington of trying to build an atomic bomb, has suspended uranium enrichment as a confidence-building measure but the EU now wants the Islamic republic to definitively abandon enrichment as well as any activities for making plutonium.
Khamenei told the Europeans that "wasting time could not impede Iran's path to nuclear technology since it is a part of its national interest."
Iran insists that its nuclear activities are peaceful and that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty guarantees its right to peaceful enrichment activities.
But at a closed-door meeting in Geneva this month, the so-called EU3 of Britain, France and Germany told Iran: "Nothing short of full cessation and dismantling of Iran's fuel cycle efforts would give the EU3 the objective guarantees they need that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful."
The Geneva meeting was the second round of talks on a potentially lucrative trade pact after a deal clinched in November by the European bloc's three most powerful members for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, the key process that makes what can be fuel for nuclear reactors but also the explosive core of atomic bombs.
"Europeans know that Iran under no circumstances will give up (uranium) enrichment for peaceful purposes," Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani told the conservative Mehr news agency.
"Europeans also know that the duration of the negotiations and suspension of the enrichment is limited, and after this round of discussions has lapsed, the Islamic Republic of Iran will seek its rightful rights," he added, echoing Iranian officials request for a speedy conclusion in the negotiations with the Europeans.
"The European Union, especially the three countries, know that Iran is firm on its decisions and I do not think the Europeans want the negotiations to reach a dead end," Rowhani said.
"Both sides have to try to reach a satisfactory solution," he added.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.