Iran Nuclear NewsIran ups ante ahead of nuclear talks with Europeans

Iran ups ante ahead of nuclear talks with Europeans

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Iran Focus: Paris, Jul. 17 – Iran paraded its senior officials over the weekend to hammer a tough message to the European Union ahead of the next round of nuclear talks expected to take place in August. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the official Iranian news agency in Tehran on Sunday that his government would reject any proposal by the European Union’s trio – Britain, Germany and France – that does not “enshrine uranium enrichment”. Iran Focus

Paris, Jul. 17 – Iran paraded its senior officials over the weekend to hammer a tough message to the European Union ahead of the next round of nuclear talks expected to take place in August.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the official Iranian news agency in Tehran on Sunday that his government would reject any proposal by the European Union’s trio – Britain, Germany and France – that does not “enshrine uranium enrichment”.

He firmly ruled out any possibility of Iran giving up uranium enrichment, a key demand of the EU-3 and the United States, who say enriched uranium could also be used for producing atomic bombs.

“We will take our decision”, Kharrazi said, hinting that Iran would resume enrichment activities.

Several other senior Iranian officials took a similar stance, hoping to raise the pressure on the European foreign ministers ahead of their talks in Brussels on Monday, where they will be debating the EU policy on Iran in light of the election of an ultra-conservative figure as the country’s new president.

“If the (EU) proposal considers Iran’s legitimate and legal right to enrich uranium, we will continue the process (of talks); otherwise we won’t accept the proposal”, Sirous Nasseri, a senior member of Iran’s nuclear negotiation team told the news agency ISNA on Saturday.

“The Europeans are aware what kind of proposal can be acceptable to Iran. If their proposal denies the right to undertake uranium enrichment, Iran will definitely not accept it”, Nasseri said.

Ali Aghamohammadi, spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was equally harsh.

“Even if they give us the whole world’s economic, political and security incentives to give up the nuclear fuel cycle, we will not do so,” he told ISNA.

EU officials have warned that resumption would probably see Iran’s case referred to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions on Tehran. The EU-3 are expected to offer their final proposals to Tehran by early or mid-August.

A senior foreign policy adviser to President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joined the fray on Sunday by warning the Europeans that Iran would soon resume enrichment activities in sites in Isfahan and Natanz, if the Europeans fail to allow Iran to go ahead with its full nuclear fuel cycle programme.

“I think the Europeans have concluded that they must accept the continuation of uranium enrichment [by Iran”> and our full legal rights in this regard, which are our minimal demands”, Majlis Deputy Manouchehr Mottaki, widely tipped to receive a key foreign policy portfolio in next government, told ISNA news agency.

If the EU-3 fail to include Iran’s enrichment activities in their offer, “we will start practical steps in Isfahan and then in Natanz [enrichment site”> and will take practical steps in keeping with Iran’s inherent right to possess nuclear fuel cycle”, Mottaki said.

Kharrazi sidestepped strong indications in Tehran that Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani will be replaced, saying instead that “members of Iran’s negotiating team will not be replaced, as they are qualified experts”.

The team Kharrazi referred to already includes several hardliners allied with Ahmadinejad, including Hossein Moussavian and Sirous Nasseri.

Ahmadinejad announced last Tuesday that he would adopt a new foreign policy, including changes in the nuclear field.

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