AFP: Iran appealed Sunday for a negotiated settlement to its standoff with the UN atomic energy watchdog but showed no inclination to abide by a resolution calling for an immediate
halt to its sensitive nuclear activities.
"No negotiations with the Americans are on the agenda, but
we call on the Europeans to discuss with us," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. AFP

TEHRAN - Iran appealed Sunday for a negotiated settlement to its standoff with the UN atomic energy watchdog but showed no inclination to abide by a resolution calling for an immediate halt to its sensitive nuclear activities.

"No negotiations with the Americans are on the agenda, but we call on the Europeans to discuss with us," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

"The Europeans should negotiate and not use threatening language against us, because this is pointless," he added. "We have to find a bridge between our legitimate rights and the concerns of the Europeans."

Iran is under threat of being hauled before the UN Security Council amid widespread suspicions it is seeking the capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

In a resolution passed on September 18, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment-related activities, a part of the nuclear fuel cycle that can be directed to both energy and weapons purposes.

But Asefi said that since the IAEA resolution was passed, "nothing has changed" in Iran's nuclear activites.

"Iran has not resumed enrichment but continues" to produce centrifuge parts and convert uranium, he said.

Nuclear fuel cycle work is permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty if it is for peaceful purposes but the IAEA wants such activities stopped pending the completion of its more than 18-month-old investigation.

The three main European powers which have been spearheading talks with Iran -- Britian, France and Germany -- want Iran to give up its fuel cycle work altogether.

Iran suspended enrichment itself last year, but has continued to advance on other parts of the fuel cycle -- including the conversion of yellowcake (uranium oxide) to produce the feed gas for centrifuges -- and insists on its right to resume enrichment at any time.

Asefi said "no decision has yet been taken" over resuming enrichment itself.

The United States is pushing for Iran to be referred to the United Nations Security Council, charging the Islamic republic is racing to acquire the technology to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran asserts it is merely trying to generate electricity and be self-reliant when it comes to nuclear fuel.

In recent months the three Europeans have been hardening their stance, and several diplomats here have said a referral of the issue to the Security Council is becoming more likely following Iran's refusal to implement IAEA demands for an immediate suspension of enrichment-related activities.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer met his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York during the week for what the sources said were "very blunt" talks.

"You are making a terrible mistake," Fischer told Kharazi, according to one participant.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier has also spoken of a "moment of truth" on November 25, the date the IAEA has set for Iran to remove suspicions over its nuclear drive.

Iran has already warned that if it is referred to the Security Council, it will stop allowing the tough IAEA inspections it is currently subject to.