Iran tells EU's Solana ready for talks on nuclear plans
TEHRAN, April 13 (AFP) Apr 13, 2009
Iran on Monday said it is ready to talk with a group of six world powers over its nuclear programme, a move that could help resolve the deadlock over Tehran's controversial atomic push.
Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, told EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in a telephone call that Tehran is willing to discuss the issue, Iranian news agency ISNA reported.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes discussion with the group of six for a constructive cooperation," Jalili, who is also a top official at Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told Solana, the ISNA report said.
Tehran will soon declare its official stance on the matter, ISNA quoted Jalili as saying.
The Supreme National Security Council is Iran's top national security decision-making body, and in particular is responsible for the nuclear negotiations.
On April 8, the United States, Britain, Russia, China, France, and Germany said Solana has been tasked to invite Iran for talks on its nuclear programme which they suspect is aimed at making atomic weapons but which Tehran denies.
Global powers led by Washington are exploring possibilities for talks with Iran with the aim of stopping the Islamic republic's sensitive uranium enrichment programme.
Enriching uranium so that it can be used for nuclear power -- or building a weapon of mass destruction -- lies at the heart of the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear programme.
The latest move from the six world powers came soon after US President Barack Obama, in his message to Iranian leaders on the Persian New Year Day, advocated a "new beginning" of ties between arch-foes Washington and Tehran.
On Monday, prominent Iranian lawmaker and head of the parliament's commission on foreign policy and national security, Alaeddin Brujerdi, said the West is now "changing" its tone in its talks with Tehran.
"I think the West is now confronted with new realities because the tone is changing," Brujerdi said.
"It understands that Iran does not want enrichment for producing atomic weapons, but wants it only for civilian purpose."
Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, says it is going ahead with its nuclear programme as it is aimed at generating electricity for its growing population.
On Sunday, top Iranian officials said the world has to accept the Islamic republic as a nuclear power after it announced two breakthroughs last week.
Iran announced on Thursday the opening of its first nuclear fuel plant and said it has tested two new high-capacity centrifuges used to enrich uranium, although Washington has voiced scepticism over the claimed advances.
"Now the 5+1 has no reason to deny or refuse Iran's nuclear technology and the expected negotiations will be based according to the rights mentioned in the Non-Proliferation Treaty," Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said on Sunday.
Tehran maintains it is allowing the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to inspect its nuclear work and that as a signatory to the NPT, it has the right to enrich uranium as fuel for nuclear power plants.
Larijani's remarks were echoed by Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Organisation.
"The world has to accept Iran as a nation with nuclear power for peaceful purposes," Saeedi was quoted as saying on the website of state-run television.
"Some nations are accepting this fact and the talk of suspending (the enrichment programme) is a thing of the past and no longer relevant."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.