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Ahmadinejad Says Nuclear Talks 'On The Right Path'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) Sep 21, 2006
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that talks on his country's nuclear programme were "on the right path" and insisted that Tehran did not need an atomic bomb. With new pressure mounting as Washington and its allies seek progress in efforts to reach a negotiated settlement with the Tehran government, Ahmadinejad's comments at the UN headquarters injected a note of moderation into the diplomatic battle.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has been leading negotiations with Tehran, and Ahmadinejad told a press conference: "We believe those negotiations are moving on the right path.

"Hopefully others will not disrupt the work. In small ways perhaps, it is a constructive path to take."

The Iranian president reaffirmed his position that Iran was prepared to negotiate the demand for a nuclear freeze "under fair and just conditions".

Repeatedly questioned about the programme that Washington and its allies suspect hides efforts to build a nuclear weapon, Ahmadinejad said: "the bottom line is, we do not need a bomb, not like what others think."

Later he added: "We are not seeking a nuclear bomb, let me make that clear." Ahmadinejad said "the time for nuclear bombs is at an end."

The Iranian leader spoke on the final day of a three-day visit to New York to address the UN General Assembly where he aggressively defended his country's uranium enrichment and attacked US policy.

Iran ignored a UN Security Council demand that it suspend uranium enrichment, a key stage in weapons production, by August 31.

According to diplomats, the United States and its European allies have decided to give Iran until early October to make progress in nuclear talks before they start discussing UN sanctions against Tehran.

Solana has been mainly speaking with chief Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani but there have been no face-to-face talks between the two since early September.

A plan for a meeting in New York this week was called off and some Western ministers have expressed frustration at what they consider Iran's unwillingness to show a sign it wants to negotiate.

Britain, France and Germany drew up a package of economic and political incentives hoping to persuade Iran to give up uranium enrichment. But Iran has not given a firm response.

"What we are looking for is a clear and concrete signal that Iran wishes to negotiate," British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett told reporters Wednesday, after highlighting the repeated postponement of talks by Iran.

"If things drag on as they have been, then there are concerns and consequences about how that can continue," Beckett added, while refusing to confirm that there was a deadline for talks to produce results.

Stressing the documents and access to nuclear facilities that Iran has already given the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ahmadinejad said: "I am at a loss in understanding what else we need to do to provide guarantees."

"It may take 100 years or more to gain confidence in what we do. What are we supposed to do given the context of the past 27 years that has been demonstrating such hostility toward our nation?" he added.

The United States has led calls for sanctions to be imposed by the UN Security Council. But this has been opposed by Russia and China.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany and Italy, agreed Tuesday to give European negotiators more time to convince Iran to give up enrichment before discussing sanctions.

A senior European diplomat said the new deadline would stretch to early October, in the hope that new talks between Solana and Larijani achieve a breakthrough.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Ahmadinejad Says Iran Does Not Need Nuclear Bomb
United Nations (AFP) Sep 21, 2006
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday his country does not need and is not seeking to build a nuclear bomb. Repeatedly questioned about Iran's controversial nuclear programme during a press conference at the UN headquarters, Ahmadinejad said: "The bottom line is, we do not need a bomb, not like what others think."

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