EU diplomats have said they are seeking U.S. and Russian support for a deal that would ask Iran to give up uranium enrichment in return for technical and economic assistance. Reuters
By Amir Paivar
TEHRAN - Iran says it will reject any proposal to halt uranium enrichment, a step European Union diplomats are proposing to end a row over whether Iran is seeking atomic weapons.
EU diplomats have said they are seeking U.S. and Russian support for a deal that would ask Iran to give up uranium enrichment in return for technical and economic assistance.
"Any proposal which deprives Iran of its legitimate right to a fuel cycle is not acceptable," Hossein Mousavian, Iran's head of foreign policy on the Supreme National Security Council, told state television on Saturday.
However, he said he was not responding to a specific offer.
"We have not yet received the text of the proposal and have to see what it contains to assess it," he said.
Uranium enriched to a low level can be used to fuel nuclear power stations such as one Iran is building at the southern port of Bushehr.
If enriched further it can be used in nuclear warheads. But oil-rich Iran denies accusations from Washington that it has military nuclear ambitions and argues its atomic programme is dedicated solely to meeting booming demand for electricity.
EU WILL CONTINUE TO PUSH
The French Foreign Ministry in Paris, asked about Mousavian's remarks, said France would still push for Iran to give up its enrichment programme.
"Time is short. France and its partners will continue to work with the Iranian authorities ... with, as their goal, securing the complete suspension by Iran of its enrichment and reprocessing activities," a spokesman said.
Iran mines uranium ore in its central desert near the city of Yazd, and Iranian politicians have been united in saying that the fuel cycle, from cutting uranium ore out of the ground to producing fuel, should be entirely in Iranian hands.
"Iran will supply fuel to its power stations from its own resources," Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of the armed forces, told Sharq newspaper.
"Western countries want to get our oil then sell us nuclear fuel at tens or hundreds of times more than its price," he added.
U.S. presidential hopeful John Kerry and his allies have proposed "calling Iran's bluff" by offering to supply atomic fuel so that Iran could give up its enrichment programme.
Foreign Ministers from Britain, France and Germany won Iran's guarantee to suspend uranium enrichment when they visited Tehran last year.
But the promise lapsed and Iran has since restarted making parts for centrifuges that enrich uranium by spinning it at supersonic speed, and has started producing uranium hexafluoride, the centrifuges' feed gas.
Israel has increased pressure on Iran's enrichment activities by buying in weaponry that could target centrifuge bunkers, deep underground near the central town of Natanz.