Iran spurns EU nuclear offer

Iran on Monday spurned the prospect of European Union incentives to end its nuclear programme, saying the bloc must acknowledge its right to nuclear technology.

“The main incentive for Iran is to recognise the essential right of Iran to have nuclear technology and the ways of realising this right,” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said when asked about the incentive plan.

Mottaki is attending a two-day meeting of the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) bloc of mostly developing nations, held in the Malaysian capital.

Iran said earlier this month it was surprised the EU was still working on putting together an incentive proposal given, that Iran has consistently stated its refusal to agree to a suspension of nuclear work.

Mottaki said he was unaware of a report in The Washington Post, which cited internal government memos and unnamed United States officials as saying the US is pressing Europe and Japan to impose sanctions to curb Iran’s leadership financially if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the nuclear stand-off.

NAM chair Malaysia on Monday urged the group’s members to defend Iran’s right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

In a clear reference to the US’s efforts to force Iran to abandon its nuclear programme, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said there should be one set of rules for everybody.

“Allowing Israel to develop nuclear weapons with impunity — which it does not deny — while others in the region are prohibited from doing so, is a blatant case of double standards,” he said.

“It has created a destabilising asymmetry in a volatile part of the world,” he added. “We must recognise Iran’s right to develop such technology for peaceful purposes.” — AFP

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