Guardian: Iran will continue its nuclear "path", the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted yesterday, just days before a deadline set by world powers for Tehran to accept a deal that could defuse the dispute over its nuclear programme.
Ian Black, Middle East editor
Iran will continue its nuclear "path", the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted yesterday, just days before a deadline set by world powers for Tehran to accept a deal that could defuse the dispute over its nuclear programme.
Khamenei, who has the final word on all big issues in Iran, suggested there was no mood for compromise in Tehran, despite the threat of new sanctions or an attack by the US or Israel. EU officials announced new restrictions that would be implemented if Iran did not back down.
"They [the west] 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," he was quoted as saying. "The Iranian nation does not pay attention to such talk and will continue with its path."
"Taking one step back against arrogant [powers] will lead to them to take one step forward," he argued. "The idea that any retreat or backing down from righteous positions would change the policies of arrogant world powers is completely wrong and baseless."
The remarks seemed to preclude halting uranium enrichment, the key demand being made of Iran. Iran flatly denies it is seeking to build nuclear weapons.
The Iranian leader made similar comments before the July 19 meeting in Geneva between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN security council, plus Germany. Iran was then given two weeks to respond to their offer to delay imposing more UN sanctions if it would agree to freeze any expansion of its nuclear work. There was no sign after that meeting of any resolution of the standoff.
Arrangements are being made for a telephone conversation early next week between Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, and Saeed Jalili, Iran's nuclear negotiator, in the hope of obtaining a definitive answer. But a European diplomat said yesterday that the EU had agreed to go beyond UN sanctions, instructing financial institutions to exercise "restraint" on export credits.
Britain, France, Germany and Italy wanted go beyond what Russia and China had been prepared to support in the security council, the diplomat said.
Iran has been offered help with civilian nuclear technology and other economic incentives of it stops enrichment. But its only response has been to call for a three-stage process which would involve talks about "modalities" for further talks, a freeze on sanctions and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Analysts say Iran appears to have been emboldened by divisions within the international community, signs that the US is not willing to use military action and has urged Israel to refrain from doing so.