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07 Sep 2009 10:13
Iran will continue its disputed nuclear work and will never negotiate on its “obvious” rights, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday, in comments that are likely to disappoint Western powers.
United States President Barack Obama has given the Islamic Republic until later in September to take up a six powers’ offer of talks on trade benefits if it shelves nuclear enrichment, or face harsher sanctions.
“From our viewpoint our nuclear issue is finished,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference.
“We will continue our work in the framework of global regulations and in close cooperation with the [United Nations] International Atomic Energy Agency. We will never negotiate on the Iranian nation’s obvious rights,” he added.
He said Iran, which plans to present its own “package” of proposals to world powers, was ready to negotiate and cooperate on making “peaceful use of clean nuclear energy” available for all countries and in preventing the spread of nuclear arms.
Last Wednesday world powers pressed Iran to meet them for talks on the nuclear programme before a UN General Assembly meeting later this month.
The West suspects Iran of trying to build nuclear bombs while Iran says its programme is for peaceful power generation.
It has repeatedly rejected demands to halt its nuclear work.
“We are prepared to sit down to hold talks,” Ahmadinejad told the news conference.
“We haven’t heard anyone set a deadline for talks. Cooperation based on respect and justice is contradictory to setting a deadline,” he said.
He also said he was prepared to hold a public debate with Obama, who offered a new US approach to Iran when he took office if the Islamic Republic would “unclench it fist” .
“We believe this is the best way for solving global issues,” Ahmadinejad said.
Iran has often said nuclear arms have no place in its defence doctrine and called on the United States and other countries with such weapons to dismantle them.
Israel, Iran’s arch-foe, is believed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal. The Jewish state says an Iranian bomb would be a threat to its existence that it would not tolerate.
The UN Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran since 2006, targeting Iranian companies and individuals linked to the nuclear programme.—Reuters
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