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. Iran says nuclear fuel cycle not up for negotiation
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 06, 2005
Iran's president and top nuclear negotiator asserted Thursday that Tehran's controversial nuclear facilities were not up for negotiation and said they would not talk with countries demanding they be dismantled.

"We do not reject negotiations, but we will not accept negotiations that are aimed at depriving Iran of its rights," ultra-conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying in Iranian media.

And top national security official Ali Larijani told the official news agency IRNA that, "if the objective is to conduct negotiations aimed at making us forget our right to the nuclear fuel cycle, the Iranian people will not accept such a thing."

Iran has been engaged in talks for the past two years with Britain, France and Germany, which want "objective guarantees" the clerical regime is not using an atomic energy drive as a means to acquire nuclear weapons.

At the heart of the problem is Iran's fuel cycle work. The so-called EU-3, backed by the United States, want Iran to give up such technology -- which can be diverted to military purposes -- and are offering incentives in exchange.

The talks broke down in August, when Iran slammed the door on such a deal and partially ended a freeze on fuel cycle work. Iran says such activities are for peaceful purposes and therefore authorised by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"I heard that the Europeans are ready to resume negotiations," Larijani said. "From our viewpoint, there is no obstacle for such talks within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."

But he added: "What is important is that Iran possesses the nuclear fuel cycle and that this is not diverted to atomic weapons, and within this framework we can give the necessary guarantees."

Ahmadinejad also claimed Iran was "reviewing" proposals to negotiate with other European countries, without giving details.

Despite the Iranian assurances, the EU-3 regard a full cessation of fuel cycle work as the only credible guarantee that Iran will not acquire the bomb.

Speaking in Moscow on Wednesday, IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei said he was "optimistic" Iran would resume talks but said it must still answer questions to allay widespread fears it wants to build nuclear weapons.

Larijani, the hardline secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said talks "have been going on with different countries", but gave no further details.

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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