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. Iran complains has yet to see incentives in nuclear talks
TEHRAN (AFP) Mar 13, 2005
Iran complained Sunday it had yet to see any real incentives in talks with the European Union on its nuclear ambitions, but nevertheless pledged it wanted to see negotiations succeed.

"We haven't seen incentives. What we have seen is remedying of mistakes. This is not a bad thing, but you cannot call them incentives," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

Britain, France and Germany have been trying to secure "objective guarantees" that Iran will not use its atomic energy ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons, and in exchange they are offering a package of trade, security, diplomatic and technology benefits to the Islamic republic.

On Friday Washington announced Friday it would help the EU put together the incentives by dropping objections to Iran joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and allowing it access to spare parts for its civilian aircraft.

But Iran has played down the importance of such offers, saying it has a right to join the WTO anyway and that sanctions affecting the maintenance of its decrepit civilian aircraft fleet were unfair to begin with.

Asefi also said there were still differences over what constituted "objective guarantees".

Ideally, the Europeans would like to see Iran change its suspension of enrichment activities into a permanent halt, but Asefi repeated assertions that such a demand has yet to be formally made.

"The topic or issue of a permanent suspension has not talked about, because the Europeans know this is an absurd demand," he said.

Iran says it has the right to enrich uranium to produce atomic fuel, but once mastered the fuel cycle can be diverted to military purposes.

"We have to wait a little more. We have to be more patient," Asefi said of the talks with the EU, which began in December.

"The negotiations are complex and difficult. The most difficult part is that they did not live up to our expectations, but that does not mean it has been positive or negative," he told reporters.

"It is too soon to evaluate. A lot of the issues depend on the next steering committee meeting" on March 23, he added, asserting that "neither side wants the negotiations to fail".

Asefi also shrugged off the threat of Iran being referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, something the United States has been pushing for.

"If our case is referred to the UN Security Council, we can handle it. There is no doubt that in the short term, sanctions would put pressure on Iran. But it is not in their favour to refer Iran to the Security Council. If they want they can go ahead," he said.

Negotiations with the United States were also "not on the agenda".

"If the US wants to enter the negotiation they will destroy them. They have to change their approach. The US has a wrong hypothesis to begin with. Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons," Asefi asserted.

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