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. Iran rejects 'language of force' over nuclear programme
TEHRAN, Aug 25 (AFP) Aug 25, 2006
Iran is ready for unconditional talks over its nuclear programme but rejects the West's "language of force" over the issue, one of the Islamic republic's religious leaders said Friday.

Iran also said that it would soon announce new nuclear successes in its quest for nuclear power that the West fears is aimed at acquiring atomic weapons.

"Iran is favourable toward negotiations that are just, logical and without preconditions, but refuses the language of force," Ahmad Khatami said in a Friday sermon broadcast on state radio.

"Using the language of force with Iran is a foolish and clumsy attitude," said Khatami, who is a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, which supervises the work of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The United States and other world powers have reacted coolly to Iran's response to a package of incentives offered by the five permanent Security Council members and Germany in return for a moratorium on sensitive uranium activities.

"During the war in Lebanon, the Security Council showed that it acted as the United States' valet... We advise Russia and China not to fall into the Americans' trap," he said.

Government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham also announced that Iran would soon unveil some fresh successes in its nuclear programme.

"In the nuclear domain, we have made progress and obtained new scientific successes which will be announced soon," government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said, also during Friday prayers, without elaborating.

Iran said on Wednesday that it would soon announce an atomic breakthrough.

"The announcement will highlight Iran's mastery of different areas in nuclear science and will reinforce Iran's position as a nuclear country," the semi-official Mehr agency quoted an informed source as saying.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Friday that sanctions against Iran after its response to the world powers' demand to freeze uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities was as yet "premature".

Iran is suspected by the West of trying to build nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear power program. Tehran has consistently rejected this suspicion and has insisted it has the right to its own nuclear power program.

France meanwhile said that "technical contacts" could take place with Iran in the coming days in a bid to clarify some aspects of its response to the international offer.

"It is a possibility in the coming days, if we believe it is seen as useful on both sides. There could be technical contacts to clarify certain aspects of the dossier sent by the Iranians," foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said.

French President Jacques Chirac earlier Friday said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that Tehran's response was "ambiguous".

The Iranian response "is a bit ambiguous... especially on the means of the eventual suspension of the sensitive activities that was requested by the international community," he said, referring to uranium enrichment.

British ambassador to the United Nations Emyr Jones Parry went further, describing Iran's response as "inadequate" and "short" of Security Council requirements.

"Our capitals are working on our response to the inadequate response we've received from Iran," he told reporters.

"We need to give a measured consideration to what has been sent to us by Iran, but quite clearly something which is short of what the Council is looking for."

World oil prices rose on the persistent standoff.

In London, benchmark Brent North Sea crude for October delivery climbed 60 cents to 73.28 dollars per barrel in electronic deals.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October, rosed 69 cents to 73.05 dollars per barrel in pit trading.

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