Iran not to halt nuclear work

Prez ready to talk over global challenges

President Mahmoud AhmadinejadHis statements came as the international nuclear watchdog warned of a “stalemate” over Iran’s nuclear programme. Members of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency began meetings in Vienna that could set the stage for a toughening of sanctions against Iran.

Ahmadinejad also said Iran would present a package of proposals for talks to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany but rejected any deadline for such talks. He said the package would “identify challenges facing humanity... and resolve global concerns.”

But he said “from our point of view, Iran’s nuclear issue is over. We continue our work within the framework of global regulations and in close interaction with the International Atomic Energy Agency.” But “we will never negotiate over obvious rights of the Iranian nation,” he said.

He said the only two aspects of the nuclear file he was willing to discuss were “creating peaceful nuclear energy for all countries” and a mechanism to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons and encourage global nuclear disarmament.

US President Barack Obama and European allies have given Iran until the end of September to take up an offer of nuclear talks with six world powers and that it should suspend uranium enrichment activities. If not, Iran could face harsher punitive sanctions.

The US and some of its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity.

Iran has repeatedly vowed it will never suspend enrichment work, saying it has every right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel. The enrichment process can produce either fuel for a reactor or the material for a warhead.

“It is very clear that this (deadline) is incompatible with the Iranian nation’s needs and direction today,” Ahmadinejad told a press conference. “Resolving global issues requires constructive interaction on the basis of justice and respect.”

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