Iran Dismisses US Call for Halting Uranium Enrichment

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran on Monday rejected US President-elect Barack Obama’s latest call for a “carrot and stick” policy in dealing with Tehran’s nuclear issue and reiterated its unbent will to continue the nuclear work.

“The carrot and stick policy has proven to be useless. It is an unacceptable policy that had failed in the past,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told reporters during a week press conference here on Monday.

Qashqavi stressed that Iran would not halt its nuclear work, saying, “Iran will never suspend its nuclear activities and expects the United States to change its carrot and stick approach with the aim of settling its dispute with Tehran.”

Iran says its nuclear program is a peaceful drive to produce electricity so that the world’s fourth-largest crude exporter can sell more of its oil and gas abroad.

The US and its western allies allege that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program while they have never presented corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations against the Islamic Republic.

“When they repeat calls for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, our answer will be that we will never suspend it,” Qashqavi said.

On Sunday, US President-elect Barack Obama told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that he was prepared to offer Iran economic incentives to stop its nuclear program, but he also warned that sanctions would be toughened if it refuses.

Obama said on Sunday that he would exercise “direct but tough diplomacy” in a bid to dissuade Tehran from enriching uranium.

He said he is prepared to offer “carrots” in the form of generous economic incentives to persuade the Islamic Republic to wrap up its nuclear program.

The US president-elect said his administration would work with international partners to present a set of carrots and sticks to encourage Iran to suspend its nuclear program.

Iran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, saying that renouncing its rights under the NPT would encourage world powers to put further pressure on the country and would not lead to a change in the West’s hardline stance on Tehran.

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.

Obama’s election as the next US president has opened the prospect of Tehran-Washington rapprochement, but recent statements suggest that the former Illinois senator is already backtracking away from his campaign promise of ‘a clean break from the Bush administration’s policies’.

Iranian officials have repeatedly called on the Obama administration to live up to world expectations, and forgo Washington’s well-worn and distrusted carrot and stick policy.

As a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran is entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful, civilian purposes.

The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.

While the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog continues snap inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, it has reported that all “declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

Also other reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammed ElBaradei – one in November and the other one in February -praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, also 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 has repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.

In another report to the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors, ElBaradei once again verified Iran’s non-diversion of declared nuclear material, adding that the UN agency has failed to discover any “components of a nuclear weapon” or “related nuclear physics studies” in Iran.

The aforementioned reports have made any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran completely irrational.

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