Iran Stresses Continued Enrichment

A00921752.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran will reject any offer that violates its right to the full nuclear fuel cycle, the foreign ministry said on Monday after world powers said they had prepared a new package which again calls on Tehran to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

“Incentives that in any way violate our interests or rights will not be examined by us,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said during his weekly press conference here on Monday.

Iran has repeatedly refused to suspend the process but western powers want Tehran to stop enrichment as a precondition for beginning talks.

“There has been no change in our position. We said that the old approach (from the world powers) should not be continued,” Hosseini said.

His comments came after the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany on Friday agreed on a new proposal of incentives to Iran in a bid to encourage Tehran to give up its nuclear rights.

Although no details of the new proposal have been made available yet, Russia said that world powers were asking Tehran only to suspend uranium enrichment during a period of talks.

The powers had said that the new package would be a sweetened form of the previous one offered to Tehran in 2006.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia – plus Germany, known as the P5+1, offered a package to Iran in 2006 that again demanded Iran halt enrichment.

Iran 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.

Iran has repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed after it answered the UN agency’s questions about the history of its nuclear program.

Meantime, Hosseini reminded that the Islamic Republic has not yet received any new nuclear offer from 5+1.

He added that an array of views has been aired over the issue, which were mostly “analyses and speculations”.

“Regarding the incentives package … we believe the path adopted in the past should not be continued. They should act based on realities and international regulations. Talks should be held based on respecting nations’ rights,” Hosseini said.

In response to a question on a call on Tehran by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to suspend uranium enrichment, the spokesman stressed that Iran has made no change in its stance on the nuclear case.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said on Sunday the Islamic Republic would not give up its right in the face of Western pressure.

Elsewhere, Hosseini confirmed that Deputy Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Olli Heinonen plans to visit Iran, saying the date is yet to be fixed.

He did not confirm the seizure of another nuclear consignment destined for Bushehr Power Plant in southern Iran by Azerbaijan but reiterated that Tehran would investigate the case.

“The Russian side will send the consignments to Iran based on its commitments,” he said.

Russia’s state-run Atomstroiexport Corporation is the supplier of nuclear cargo for Bushehr Power Plant. Azerbaijan earlier halted a nuclear cargo shipment from Russia to Iran.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

The United States and its Western allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran has denied the charges and insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

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 wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has also insisted that 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 finished a tour of the Middle East in winter to gain the consensus of 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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