New York Times: Speaking just days before a deadline set by world powers for Iran to reply to proposals to curb its nuclear ambitions, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, said Wednesday that Iran would “continue with its path” of nuclear development, which includes the enrichment of uranium.
The New York Times
By GRAHAM BOWLEY
Published: July 31, 2008
Speaking just days before a deadline set by world powers for Iran to reply to proposals to curb its nuclear ambitions, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, said Wednesday that Iran would “continue with its path” of nuclear development, which includes the enrichment of uranium.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s comments suggested that Iran might be preparing to take a hard line on the demands by six nations — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — that it stop enriching uranium by this weekend. His comments were cited by state radio, according to news agency reports from Tehran.
Representatives of the six nations met with Iranian officials in Geneva on July 19, with a senior American official taking part for the first time. The talks seemed to produce no progress on the chief demand — that Iran stop uranium enrichment.
Iran contends that its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes, but the six powers suspect that the country may be pursuing nuclear weapons.
The six nations “know that the Iranian nation is after using nuclear energy to provide electricity, but they say, ‘Because this work gives you capability, we will not allow it,’ ” Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying by state radio, according to Reuters.
“The Iranian nation, by depending on its useful experience and advantages of 30 years of resistance, does not pay any attention to such talk and will continue with its path,” he said.
At the meeting in Geneva, Iranian diplomats reiterated that the issue of uranium enrichment was nonnegotiable. But the six powers gave Iran two weeks to respond to their latest proposal before it would be withdrawn.
The world powers want Iran to accept a formula known as freeze-for-freeze. Under this plan, Iran would not expand its nuclear program, and the United States and other powers would not seek new international sanctions for six weeks to pave the way for formal negotiations.
The proposal, first offered last year, is intended to give Iran economic and political incentives to stop enriching uranium.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week that America would seek more sanctions if the latest deadline was ignored.
Ayatollah Khamenei was also quoted by state television as saying in a sermon that taking a step back against what he called arrogant world powers would “lead them to take one step forward.”
“The idea that any retreat or backing down from righteous positions would change the policies of arrogant world powers is completely wrong and baseless,” he said.