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. Iran warns EU ahead of nuclear talks
TEHRAN (AFP) Jul 03, 2005
Iran warned the European Union Sunday that any proposal on the future of its nuclear activities will be rejected if it does not enshrine the Islamic republic's "right" to sensitive technology.

Britain, France and Germany are trying to convince Iran to completely abandon its enrichment programme, and have promised to come up with the outlines of a long-term accord by the end of July.

"We hope this proposal will have our right to use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. "Otherwise we will not accept such a plan."

Enrichment can produce weapons-grade uranium, but Iran claims it only wants to make atomic fuel for energy purposes and argues it has a "right" to do so as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran -- widely suspected of seeking to develop nuclear arms -- has frozen its fuel cycle work and is negotiating with the Europeans, keen to offer Tehran trade and other incentives in return for pledges to curb its nuclear projects.

According to European diplomats close to the talks, the forthcoming EU-3 proposal will not satisfy Iranian demands to resume fuel cycle work and a fresh war of words can be expected.

However, if Iran does choose to resume enrichment, diplomats say it is all but certain of being hauled before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

In a related development, officials also moved Sunday to deny speculation that Iran's top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani had quit in the wake of presidential polls that saw hardliner Mahmood Ahmadinejad elected.

Rowhani is seen as being close to defeated moderate conservative Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and had also spoken out against Ahmadinejad in the run-up to the election.

In a statement carried on state television, Iran's Supreme National Security Council said reports that Rowhani had quit were "untrue".

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