AP: Iran welcomes a "constructive" dialogue with world powers over its nuclear program — but insisted that it won't halt its uranium enrichment activities, the official IRNA news agency reported Wednesday.
The Associated Press
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran welcomes a "constructive" dialogue with world powers over its nuclear program — but insisted that it won't halt its uranium enrichment activities, the official IRNA news agency reported Wednesday.
The report was in response to an invitation from the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia for a new round of nuclear talks. No date has been set.
"Iran … welcomes constructive and fair talks based on mutual respect," IRNA quoted an official government statement as saying. Iran "believes that the existing problems in the international arena need to be resolved through dialogue."
The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of secretly seeking to develop atomic weapons. But Iran denies the allegation, saying its nuclear program is geared toward electricity generation not bombs.
Last week, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was preparing a new package of proposals aimed at resolving the dispute with the West over his country's nuclear program and said Tehran was willing build a new relationship with the United States.
The U.S. and five other world powers are discussing possible new strategies for dealing with Iran that reportedly involves allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium at its current level for an as-yet undetermined length of time.
That would be a departure from the long-standing demand of the former Bush administration that Iran halt uranium enrichment as a condition for any direct talks between the two foes.
The Obama administration has said American representatives will attend the talks, another break from the former administration that, except once, refused to do so. The only American attendance during years of talks occurred last year.
The U.S. administration officials have said the immediate goal is to get Iran back to the negotiating table but have insisted that the ultimate goal is to get Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities.
Iran has repeatedly said it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.
"The Islamic republic of Iran will pursue its nuclear activities in an active interaction with the International Atomic Energy Agency and within the framework of the NPT like other agency members," IRNA quoted the statement as saying.
Uranium enriched at low levels is used to produce nuclear fuel but further enrichment makes it suitable for use in building nuclear weapons.