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. Iran defiant after nuclear talks 'disaster'

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. AFP Photo
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Dec 2, 2007
Iran on Sunday remained defiant in the standoff over its nuclear programme after the latest talks with the European Union ended in failure and world powers agreed to step up moves for further sanctions.

Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said more UN Security Council sanctions would not deter Iran from pressing ahead with its nuclear drive, which the United States alleges is aimed at making an atomic weapon.

"If these powers are trying to deprive Iran of its rights, then resolutions and sanctions will be fruitless," he told reporters.

His comments came two days after the latest round of talks between EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili ended in failure and mutual recrimination.

Solana said on Friday he was "disappointed" after the last-ditch talks in London failed to produce a breakthrough, in a marked change to his more diplomatic language in previous discussions.

According to a French diplomatic source in Paris, Friday's meeting between the two had been a "disaster," with Jalili signalling that Tehran wanted to start again from scratch on the issue.

"Solana left asking himself what the future of the negotiations could be," the source said.

Jalili took over in October after the sudden resignation of Ali Larijani, who had led Iran's negotiations with Solana for the past two years.

Larijani was seen as a relative moderate in the nuclear standoff, whereas Jalili is a hardline ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and has a reputation for intransigence.

"I have to admit that after five hours of meetings I expected more, and therefore I am disappointed," Solana told reporters after the London talks.

Tehran had promised to bring "new ideas" to the table for the talks, but Solana's spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said: "There was not enough new in order not to be disappointed."

After returning to Tehran, Jalili defiantly shrugged off any idea that Iran was to blame for the failure of the talks, saying it was up to the other side to accept Iranian demands.

"If some people have become disappointed because they cannot deprive Iran of its natural rights then this is another matter," he told reporters on Saturday.

The talks have foundered over Iran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can be used both to make nuclear fuel and weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear drive is peaceful and it has every right to the full fuel cycle.

"If there are expectations beyond the framework of treaties they are unacceptable to us," said Hosseini, referring to Iran's insistence that its right to enrichment is guaranteed by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Following the failure of the EU talks, the six main powers dealing with the crisis met in Paris on Saturday and agreed to start work on a resolution calling for new sanctions against Iran at the UN Security Council.

A French diplomatic source said the new resolution would be a compromise between Western nations and China and Russia, and added that it could perhaps be agreed upon in the coming weeks.

Amid the new drive for sanctions, Hosseini announced that Jalili would travel to Moscow on Monday for talks with Russian officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov both visited Tehran in October, and Iran is counting on Moscow's support in the nuclear crisis.

But Russia has also urged Tehran to do more to allay international suspicions over its nuclear activities.

Iran's nuclear programme was set to be a major issue at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit starting on Monday in Doha, which Ahmadinejad will be attending as a guest -- the first time an Iranian leader has been invited.

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US energy pact does not prevent new Indian nuclear tests: PM
New Delhi (AFP) Nov 28, 2007
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh denied a claim by India's opposition leader Wednesday that a nuclear deal with the United States would block the country from holding future atomic weapons tests.

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