Iran Nuclear NewsAhmadinejad again rules out Iran nuclear work halt

Ahmadinejad again rules out Iran nuclear work halt

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Reuters: Iran will not bow to international pressure to halt its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday, after world powers told Tehran to halt uranium enrichment or face a third round of U.N. sanctions. By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran will not bow to international pressure to halt its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday, after world powers told Tehran to halt uranium enrichment or face a third round of U.N. sanctions.

“If they (the West) think by using some organizations (U.N.) they can prevent Iran from obtaining (nuclear) technology … they are mistaken,” Ahmadinejad told a rally in the southeastern Kerman province, state television reported.

Senior officials from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China warned Iran on Wednesday of fresh U.N. sanctions if it refused to halt uranium enrichment work which the West suspects could be used to build nuclear weapons.

The United Nations has imposed two sets of sanctions on Iran since December over its refusal to freeze enrichment — a process that can be used to make atomic warheads.

Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, has so far ruled out freezing such work which it says will only be used for peaceful ends such as generating electricity.

“The Iranian nation will continue to insist on its right to nuclear technology,” Ahmadinejad said.

Several western diplomats told Reuters that Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani made it clear to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Ankara last week that Iran had no intention of fully suspending its enrichment work.

Among the issues discussed at their meeting was a Swiss proposal for a staged plan leading to a simultaneous suspension of Iran’s enrichment work and U.N. sanctions to enable talks between Iran and six world powers to start, diplomats said.

“Iran said it was considering the Swiss offer, but would not accept a full suspension before, during or after talks,” one diplomat said. “And if a third resolution is passed by the Security Council, then Iran will stop considering the plan.”

EXCHANGING PLEASANTARIES

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki attended a regional conference on Iraq in Egypt on Thursday.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mottaki exchanged pleasantries over lunch at the conference, but did not discuss details of policy.

“They said hello. It was not about substance,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

Analysts say the Iranian economy, already struggling to create enough jobs despite surging oil revenues, would be vulnerable particularly to restrictions on gasoline imports, European financing and trade in industrial components.

The head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), adviser to 26 industrialized countries, said on Thursday there was no reason why Iran should not have nuclear energy.

“I don’t see why a country like Iran could not have nuclear as part of its energy mix,” IEA Executive Director Claude Mandil said in Paris. The IEA is an advocate of nuclear energy as a way to address future needs without polluting the planet.

“There is no energy reason why it should be denied nuclear,” he said, although he added he understood the West’s concerns.

(Additional reporting by Sue Pleming in Sharm el-Sheikh, Muriel Boselli in Paris and Louis Charbonneau in Berlin)

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