Reuters: Iran said on Sunday it would not discuss its “obvious right” to master the nuclear fuel cycle but was open to talks that could reassure the West that its atomic plans were not aimed at producing bombs. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran said on Sunday it would not discuss its “obvious right” to master the nuclear fuel cycle but was open to talks that could reassure the West that its atomic plans were not aimed at producing bombs.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini also told a weekly news conference the Islamic Republic’s military was “totally prepared to defend the country and Iran is totally prepared for any possible military strike.”
The United States, which believes Iran is trying to build an atomic bomb, has said it wants a diplomatic solution to end the row over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions but has not ruled out military action if that route fails.
Hosseini said Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana had been in contact to try to resolve the dispute, which has prompted the United Nations to slap two rounds of sanctions on Iran.
But he said Iran would not discuss what Tehran calls its right under international treaty to enrich uranium, a process which can be used to make fuel for power stations, or material for warheads if enriched to a high enough level.
“The talks should have a purpose and Iran’s obvious right will not be discussed. We want talks without preconditions to remove ambiguities and to assure the other parties there will be no diversion (to military uses),” Hosseini said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says there are still gaps in its knowledge about Iran’s atomic plans that need to be filled before it can confirm those plans are peaceful.
Solana led four months of talks with Larijani last year to try to persuade Iran to heed calls to halt enrichment work in return for incentives offered by the six world powers — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
But the talks collapsed, prompting the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran in December, followed by further measures last month. Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, insists it will not suspend its nuclear work.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accompanied by senior officials and journalists, will visit the Natanz enrichment plant on Monday, the day on which he has said Iran will announce “good news” about its atomic plans.
Asked what he might announce, Hosseini said: “If you wait 24 hours, you will all find out.”