Reuters: Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator told major powers on Thursday that talks, not more sanctions, offered the only way forward for resolving an escalating standoff over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator told major powers on Thursday that talks, not more sanctions, offered the only way forward for resolving an escalating standoff over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
But the United States said the best way to settle the dispute was for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment, which Washington and its allies fear is aimed at producing a nuclear bomb, and urged Tehran to change its “confrontational course.”
Speaking two days before a new round of exploratory talks with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Larijani said: “With (U.N.) resolutions they can not stop Iran’s move but with negotiations they can reach a solution.”
The United States said on Tuesday it and five other world powers — Britain, Russia, France, Germany and China — had begun discussing a third round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear defiance.
Iran has repeatedly said such pressure will not make it halt sensitive atom work it says is solely aimed at generating electricity.
“Harsh words against the Iranian nation will have a stronger response … if they speak softly and logically it is in their own advantage,” Larijani said in a speech in Tehran, according to the Web site of the Iranian state broadcaster.
Larijani, who is due to meet U.N. atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei in Vienna on Friday before Saturday’s talks with Solana in Lisbon, did not elaborate.
The last meeting between Larijani and Solana, in Madrid last month, did not yield any breakthrough on the dispute, prompting Western powers to warn Iran faced stiffer sanctions.
Iran has ruled out suspending uranium enrichment, a process to make fuel for nuclear power plants that can also provide material for atom bombs, if enriched to a much higher degree.
Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency said last week the country may reconsider basic cooperation with U.N. nuclear inspectors if it was hit with harsher sanctions.
Larijani said: “Some countries … used to think that by issuing some resolutions against us we would retreat, but the reality is that we are pursuing our rights.”
At the United Nations, the United States told the Security Council a package of economic incentives the big powers offered Iran last year in return for suspension remained on the table.
“We believe this package and the historic offer extended by the U.S. to engage in direct talks with Iran, alongside our … partners … represents the best path toward a diplomatic solution of this matter,” U.S. delegate Jackie Sanders said.
“It is our hope that the Iranian regime will change its current, confrontational course, suspend its proliferation sensitive nuclear activities and engage in constructive negotiations on the future of its nuclear program.”
(Additional reporting by Patrick Worsnip at the U.N.)