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. Iran won't give up uranium enrichment programme: Larijani
TEHRAN (AFP) Dec 05, 2005
Iran's top nuclear negotiator reiterated Monday that Tehran would not give up its nuclear fuel ambitions, dismissing a proposal for the Islamic republic to conduct sensitive enrichment work abroad.

Ali Larijani nevertheless said Iran would give a chance for negotiations ease suspicions of a nuclear weapons drive before ending a freeze on uranium enrichment -- which makes reactor fuel but can be extended to military purposes.

"Very certainly, enrichment will take place in Iran, but for confidence building we decided on negotiations," Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told a news conference.

Britain, France and Germany -- backed by the United States -- argue that the only guarantee Iran will not use its atomic energy drive as a means to acquire the bomb is for the country to totally abandon uranium enrichment activities.

The EU-3 and Iran are expected to meet in the coming weeks, with the Europeans set to press forward a proposal from Moscow under which Iran's uranium would be enriched only on Russian soil.

If Iran refuses, the issue could be referred to the UN Security Council.

But Larijani said enrichment "is not something that a country invests in and then transfers it.

"We don't see the need for such a thing. What can be done in a few years we can do right now. It is not proper and not politically reasonable," he said, renewing his objection to Moscow's suggestion.

He did not say when Iran could resume the ultra-sensitive work, but added that "we prefer to have a result on enrichment through negotiations, and then start it" and said talks should not last more than "several months".

He also said that in the coming months Iran would issue an international tender for the construction of two nuclear power stations, as part of its ambition to build 20 power stations over the next 20 years to produce 20 megawatts of electricity.

And arch-enemy Israel, he warned, would face "heavy consequences" if it decided to attack.

Former Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying Monday that Israel needed to "act in the spirit" of the late premier Menachem Begin who ordered an air strike on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.

But Larijani said Iran, which maintains its nuclear programme is peaceful, was not afraid of an attack.

"Comparing Iran and Iraq is an error, because Iran is not an easy target. You should not pay attention to such rude comments by Israeli officials," he told reporters.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also said Iran's response to such an attack would be "devastating and unbearable".

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