/ 25 August 2006

Iran rejects ‘language of force’ over nuclear issue

Iran is ready for unconditional talks over its nuclear programme but rejects the West’s ”language of force” over the issue, one of the Islamic republic’s religious leaders said on Friday.

Iran also said that it will soon announce new nuclear successes in its quest for nuclear power that the West fears is aimed at acquiring atomic weapons.

”Iran is favourable toward negotiations that are just, logical and without preconditions, but refuses the language of force,” Ahmad Khatami said in a Friday sermon broadcast on state radio.

”Using the language of force with Iran is a foolish and clumsy attitude,” said Khatami, who is a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, which supervises the work of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The United States and other world powers have reacted coolly to Iran’s response to a package of incentives offered by the five permanent Security Council members and Germany in return for a moratorium on sensitive uranium activities.

”During the war in Lebanon, the Security Council showed that it acted as the US’s valet … We advise Russia and China not to fall into the Americans’ trap,” he said.

Government spokesperson Gholamhossein Elham also announced that Iran will soon unveil some fresh successes in its nuclear programme.

”In the nuclear domain, we have made progress and obtained new scientific successes, which will be announced soon,” government spokesperson Gholamhossein Elham said, also during Friday prayers, without elaborating.

Iran said on Wednesday that it would soon announce an atomic breakthrough.

”This great scientific achievement is the fruit of a long-term research project … It will be formally announced by a top official,” the semi-official Mehr agency had quoted an informed source as saying.

”The announcement will highlight Iran’s mastery of different areas in nuclear science and will reinforce Iran’s position as a nuclear country,” the report said.

Amid a fanfare of publicity, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in April that Iran had successfully enriched uranium to 3,5% and mastered the nuclear fuel cycle.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Friday that sanctions against Iran after its response to the world powers’ demand to freeze uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities was as yet ”premature”.

Iran is suspected by the West of trying to build nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear power programme. Tehran has consistently rejected this suspicion and has insisted it has the right to its own nuclear power programme.

France, meanwhile, said that ”technical contacts” could take place with Iran in the coming days in a bid to clarify some aspects of its response to the international offer.

”It is not ruled out that, perhaps, technical contacts could be established with the Iranians,” foreign ministry spokesperson Jean-Baptiste Mattei said.

”It is a possibility in the coming days, if we believe it is seen as useful on both sides. There could be technical contacts to clarify certain aspects of the dossier sent by the Iranians,” he told a press briefing.

French President Jacques Chirac earlier on Friday said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that Tehran’s response was ”ambiguous”.

The Iranian response ”is a bit ambiguous … especially on the means of the eventual suspension of the sensitive activities that was requested by the international community,” he said, referring to uranium enrichment. — AFP