Ahmadinejad rejects nuclear suspension ahead of EU talks
TEHRAN, April 23 (AFP) Apr 23, 2007
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday vowed that Iran would not give up its "right" to enrich uranium, ahead of key talks between its chief nuclear negotiator and the EU foreign policy chief.
"The suspension of uranium enrichment is not legal and the Western demands for this are political," Ahmadinejad told Iran's Arabic language channel Al-Alam television, according to a simultaneous translation of the live interview.
"In the past Iran did carry out a suspension and we saw what happened," said Ahmadinejad, pointing to the suspension carried out under reformist President Mohammad Khatami.
"There is a national desire and this exceeds even that for the nationalisation of the oil industry," which caused a crisis in ties with the West in 1953. "Iran and its people will not back down from this right."
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana meet on Wednesday in Turkey for the first time in over two months in a bid to break the deadlock in the Iranian nuclear crisis.
However it remains to be seen what the outcome of the talks can be if Iran still insists it has no intention of halting sensitive uranium enrichment operations, the key sticking point in the five-year standoff.
The United States has never ruled out military action to end the standoff and Ahmadinejad warned in the interview that Iran would "respond" to any such attack.
"Our doctrine is a defensive one. Iran will not attack any country in the world. I repeat we will not attack any country in the world. But if we are attacked we will respond," said Ahmadinejad.
"If someone insists on something that is against the law then our people knows how to defend itself," he added.
Ahmadinejad also emphasised that Iran as OPEC's number two producer had no intention of using oil as a weapon, a prospect that has sometimes rattled financial markets.
"I emphasise that we do not want to use oil as a weapon," said the president, following remarks by Iran's oil minister last week that appeared to leave such an option open.
In a separate interview also broadcast on Monday, Ahmadinejad told Spanish state television TVE that the EU should adopt an independent position to that of the United States on Iran's nuclear programme.
"If the European Union wants to play an appropriate role in international relations, it should act independently," he said.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.