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. Iran president promises 'innovations' to solve nuclear row
TEHRAN (AFP) Aug 24, 2005
Iran wants negotiations over its nuclear programme to continue and is finalising "innovations" to resolve the dispute, the Islamic republic's new hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Wednesday.

However he told reporters that Iran would also defend its "lawful rights" in the nuclear domain -- a reference to the country's demand to hold on to sensitive atomic energy fuel cycle technology that the West fears could be diverted to weapons use.

"Our policy is transparent and clear: we are after the nation's lawful rights within the framework of international law and we will defend these rights seriously," he said on the sidelines of a parliamentary confidence vote on his proposed cabinet.

But he added that "we want the negotiations to continue", even though talks with Britain, France and Germany have broken off due to Iran's decision to partially end its suspension of uranium enrichment-related work.

"I have some innovations concerning the fuel cycle which are being finalised by the experts and the details will be known," he said, but did not elaborate.

At the end of July, the EU-3 formally asked Iran to abandon uranium enrichment-related work in exchange for a package of trade incentives, access to nuclear fuel produced overseas and help with Tehran's regional security concerns.

Iran reacted by resuming uranium conversion work at a facility at Isfahan on August 8, but has so far held off on enrichment.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), called on Iran earlier this month to return to a full suspension of nuclear fuel activities.

The IAEA is due to report on the crisis September 3, and a refusal by the Islamic republic to comply could lead to Iran's referral to the UN Security Council as sought by Washington for possible sanctions.

"Despite the claims of the Europeans, it was not Iran that violated the Paris Agreement," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told the state news agency IRNA, referring to the November 2004 deal under which Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear fuel cycle activities.

"The Europeans are to blame for unilaterally interpreting and violating the Paris Agreement," Asefi said, repeating Iran's contention that it has the right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to produce its own nuclear fuel.

"The Europeans ignored Iran's rights," Asefi said, the day after the EU-3 cancelled talks scheduled for next week.

Meanwhile a new Iranian militia group calling itself the "Martyrdom Lovers" is preparing to stage its first manoeuvres aimed at defending nuclear sites from a US attack, a hardline paper said.

The commander of the suicide group, Mohammad Reza Jaffari, told the Parto Sokhan (Light of Speech) weekly that the forthcoming exercise was codenamed "Yes to Khamenei", in dedication to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"This will be the first manoeuvres of the martyrdom-seeking brigades," he said, adding the volunteers will "work on new tactics of how to defend the sensitive and strategic areas and how to destroy the hypothetical enemy by implementing a human shield."

"We will also work on how each martyrdom-seeker can blow up the enemies' machinery," he explained, without saying when or where the training programme would take place or how many "Martyrdom Lovers" would be involved.

But he added that during previous group meetings in Arak, Isfahan, Natanz and Bushehr -- the sites of Iran's main nuclear facilities -- trainees were told that "if the United States makes a foolish move and attacks Iran, then we will burn all their interests around the world and will not give them any opportunities to escape."

"The US should know that each martyrdom-seeker is an atomic bomb," he told the paper, which had earlier this month carried an advertisement seeking people to join the group.

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.

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