Reuters: Iran's foreign minister said on Saturday the country would not back down in its nuclear dispute with the West and that he believed Tehran's proposals to world powers could pave the way for negotiations. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran's foreign minister said on Saturday the country would not back down in its nuclear dispute with the West and that he believed Tehran's proposals to world powers could pave the way for negotiations.
"We cannot have any compromise with respect to the Iranian nation's inalienable right," Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference, in comments translated by English-language Press TV.
The United States said on Friday it would accept Iran's offer of wide-ranging talks with six major powers despite its stated refusal to discuss nuclear work the West suspects is aimed at making bombs. Iran denies the charge.
Also on Friday, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he was seeking an urgent meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, to try to resolve Western concerns about Iran's nuclear programme.
Iran on Wednesday handed over a five-page proposal that offered wide-ranging talks on international and regional issues with the West but was silent on its nuclear programme.
"Offering such a package of proposals is indicative of the Islamic Republic of Iran's firm resolve for addressing issues that have also been mentioned within the package," Mottaki said.
Referring to the statements from major powers, he said, "one would just reach the conclusion that they have all admitted the existence of major topics and issues for holding constructive negotiations and this can be the basis for negotiations."
"FAILED" SANCTIONS POLICY
The United States and its allies suspect Iran's uranium enrichment activity is a cover for developing nuclear weapons. Iran says it is solely intended to produce electricity.
The major powers, which include permanent U.N. Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States as well as Germany, offered Iran trade and diplomatic incentives in 2006 in exchange for halt to uranium enrichment.
They improved the offer last year but retained the demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, something the Islamic Republic has ruled out as a precondition.
U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging a policy of engagement toward Iran and the State Department said it wanted the six powers to meet Iranian officials now to see if they were willing to talk substantively.
Obama has suggested Iran may face harsher international sanctions, possibly targeting its imports of gasoline, if it does not accept good-faith talks by the end of September.
But Russia, which has veto power in the U.N. Security Council, on Thursday all but ruled out oil sanctions on Iran.
Iran, the world's fifth-biggest crude producer, is seen as vulnerable to oil sanctions because it imports 40 percent of its gasoline due to lack of sufficent domestic refining capacity.
Mottaki said Western powers had experienced four years of "failed policy of imposing sanctions" on Iran, referring to three rounds of punitive U.N. measures since 2006.