Iran rebuffs EU call to freeze nuclear activities

TEHRAN (Reuters) — Iran rebuked the European Union on Tuesday for calling on it to freeze nuclear fuel activities, insisting it had a clear right to develop a full civilian nuclear energy programme.
“The EU’s statement was surprising. We suggest the Europeans change their behaviour toward Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told state television.

The European Union urged Iran on Monday to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) September resolution calling on Tehran to halt uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant.

Iran broke UN seals at the Isfahan plant in August and began converting tonnes of uranium ore into a gas that can be enriched to make nuclear reactor or bomb-grade fuel.

Iran says it will never make atomic bombs and only wants to use nuclear technology for electricity generation.

“Iran will never abandon its nuclear fuel cycle,” Asefi said after a closed-door meeting of Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki with ambassadors from the European Union and from member states of the IAEA board of governors.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani wrote a letter to the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France this week calling for fresh talks with the EU trio.

The EU has said it is studying Iran’s offer of new talks.

Nuclear negotiations between the two sides broke down in August and the EU three have said they will not return to the negotiating table until Iran halts work at Isfahan.

In an interview with the BBC aired on Tuesday, Larijani said Tehran would not be intimidated into backing down.

“The resumption of activities at the nuclear conversion plant at Isfahan is a sign that Iran is determined to master nuclear technology. Through a language of force and threats you cannot persuade Iran to give up this right,” he said.

Larijani, who is secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said Tehran wanted to bring up the resumption of the most sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle — uranium enrichment — in its talks with the EU.

“We are waiting to see if the negotiations start so that we can deal with these issues as well. One of the main points of any future negotiations is this issue,” he said.

Iran’s offer of fresh talks with the EU comes just ahead of a meeting of the board of governors of the IAEA, at which Washington may once again push for Iran’s case to be taken to the UN Security Council.

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