Bloomberg: Iran will maintain its right to develop nuclear technology in the face of pressure from the U.S. and its allies to suspend a uranium enrichment program, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said today. June 27 (Bloomberg) — Iran will maintain its right to develop nuclear technology in the face of pressure from the U.S. and its allies to suspend a uranium enrichment program, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said today.
“We will not negotiate with anyone over our undeniable right to access and use nuclear technology,” the state-run Fars news agency cited Khamenei as saying during a meeting today with visiting Senegalese President Aboulaye Wade.
Iran sees “no use for us to negotiate with the U.S.,” Khamenei said. Should the international community acknowledge Iran’s nuclear rights, he said, “we are ready to negotiate over supervision controls and guarantees to the world. The ground for such talks is now available.”
The U.S. and European Union are offering Iran technology and trade incentives in exchange for the Islamic Republic halting its uranium enrichment program. The U.S. suspects Iran’s drive to develop the nuclear fuel is a precursor to building a weapon, in contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory. Iran says the fuel is needed for electricity generation.
The U.S. does not regard Khamenei’s remarks as an official response from the Iranian government to the incentive proposals, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said.
“There are differing voices coming out of Iran,” Snow said today at a briefing in Washington. The U.S. is awaiting a response from Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, in discussions with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
Iran may take up to two months before replying to the EU’s proposals, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said June 21. This is an “awful long time” to respond, U.S. President George W. Bush said at a news conference in Vienna that day, following a meeting with EU leaders.
While Iran wasn’t given a precise deadline to respond to the offer, Bush said June 9 that Iran has “weeks, not months” to decide whether to suspend verifiably its enrichment activities to avoid United Nations Security Council action.
Larijani probably won’t meet Solana this week, Agence France-Presse reported, citing unidentified diplomats in Vienna. The meeting may come toward the end of the first week or at the beginning of the second week in July, one diplomat said, according to AFP.
Iran began a new round of enrichment June 6, the day the EU incentives were delivered in Tehran, according to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. Enriched uranium can fuel an atomic reactor or form a bomb’s core.
`Come to the Table’
The incentive plan was agreed June 1 by diplomats from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K. and France — as well as by Germany.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said May 31 that should Iran halt enrichment, the U.S. will “come to the table” and join the EU in talking to Iran over the nuclear issue.
The U.S. has been at odds with Iran since the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by student activists during the Islamic revolution in 1979, which led to the severing of formal ties in 1980.
The IAEA on March 8 referred Iran to the Security Council after three years of agency inspections failed to declare Iran’s atomic work peaceful. In November 2003, the IAEA criticized Iran for concealing parts of its nuclear program for 18 years.
Bush on June 19 threatened “actions” by the UN Security Council should Iran reject the EU-led offer.