Iran Rejects N. Talks with World Powers

A03874211.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran on Saturday reaffirmed its rejection of any talks with world powers over the nuclear crisis, saying it would only negotiate with the UN atomic watchdog.“The issue of nuclear talks with the countries of the 5+1 is over,” government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters. The so-called 5+1 are the five permanent UN Security Council powers plus Germany, which have been seeking to force Iran to give up its right of nuclear enrichment in exchange for an incentives package.

The six powers have been represented by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana who has been involved in two years of talks with Iran. But despite all the agreements made in the Iran-EU talks, western powers have always tighten the grip on Iran and responded to Tehran’s confidence-building measures with three sets of UN Security Council sanctions.

Elham’s comments confirm remarks made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this month which suggested the government was strongly against any new talks between Solana and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

“We will continue our path within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency as this is the only legal body for this issue,” Elham added.

The UN Security Council two weeks ago tightened sanctions against Tehran over its refusal to heed West’s calls to give up its uranium enrichment right.

The UN Security Council imposed a third round of sanctions on Iran earlier this month for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, adopting a resolution that Germany co-sponsored, though not itself on the council.

The US is at loggerheads with Iran over Tehran’s independent and home-grown nuclear technology. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted the recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one on Friday – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seemed to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhovin as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East last month has called on his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the growing international vigilance, specially following the latest IAEA and US intelligence reports.

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