Ahmadinejad Reiterates Iran’s Readiness for N. Talks

A0358853.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voiced Tehran’s readiness for negotiations on nuclear and other issues provided such talks do not violate the country’s rights.

Yet, the president told a rally he would not address Iran’s nuclear row with the West in detail and would save his comments for another occasion.

His remarks came the day world powers met in China to discuss sweetening of a package of incentives to coax Iran into giving up its right of uranium enrichment.

The meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – plus Germany and an EU representative was hosted by Beijing for the first time.

China has kept out of the spotlight in the nuclear row with Iran, one of Beijing’s major oil suppliers and where Chinese energy firms have been investing. Beijing often calls for more talks, rather than sanctions, to defuse the dispute.

“The Iranian nation is after talks and negotiations but negotiations in a logical and just framework and in line with the fundamental rights of nations,” Ahmadinejad said in his speech, adding that Iran would not retreat from its rights “one iota.”

Sitting behind Ahmadinejad as he spoke on a podium was Ali Larijani, Iran’s former top nuclear negotiator who quit his post last year.

Larijani won a Qom parliamentary seat in the March election.

The UN Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran for not heeding demands to give up its NPT right of uranium enrichment, a process the West claims Iran wants to master so it can build nuclear bombs. Iran strongly denies West’s allegations, saying it wants to generate electricity. The US-led West has no corroborative evidence to substantiate its claims against the Islamic Republic.

The meeting in Shanghai is at a tier below minister level and discussions were expected on whether to sweeten a 2006 offer of incentives to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear rights.

The six powers offered civil nuclear cooperation and wider trade in civil aircraft, energy, technology and farming, if Iran suspended uranium enrichment and negotiated with them. Iran has said it will talk but will never give up its nuclear plans.

Iran, which says it wants nuclear technology to generate electricity, has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, and says it will only negotiate with the UN nuclear watchdog.

The US is at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. 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 in February – 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 Darkhoveyn 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 in winter 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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