Iran Refuses to Discuss Suspension of Nuclear Program

By Haaretz Service

Published January 21, 2011.

Iran would refuse to discuss any suspension of its uranium enrichment activities during talks with six world powers over its nuclear program that opened in Istanbul on Friday, a senior Iranian official said.

“We will not allow any talks linked to freezing or suspending of Iran’s enrichment activities to be discussed at the meeting in Istanbul,” Massoud Zohrevand, a senior official in the Iranian delegation said.

“So far this issue has not been discussed, has not been raised or mentioned by the other party,” Zohrevand said, adding, “Iran’s nuclear rights cannot be discussed.”

Zohrevand’s comments came as a statement released by Iran’s National Security Council released earlier Friday indicated Tehran’s satisfaction with concurrent P5+1 nuclear talks, applauding what they call a “positive atmosphere.”

The statement was issued after the first two-hour session on Friday morning. The talks are due to resume later in the afternoon and continue through Saturday.

Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is Secretary General of the National Security Council.

Iran and six world powers sought Friday to find common ground at talks jeopardized by Tehran’s refusal to discuss demands that it curb nuclear activities that could manufacture the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

The two sides sat down with no sign that they were ready to budge from widely differing positions revealed after a first round of talks in Geneva last month.

While the six would like to kickstart talks focused at freezing Iran’s uranium enrichment program, Tehran has repeatedly said that activity is not up for discussion. Instead, Iranian officials are pushing an agenda that covers just about everything except its nuclear program: global disarmament, Israel’s suspected nuclear arsenal, and Tehran’s concerns about U.S. military bases in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

We want to discuss the fundamental problems of global politics at Istanbul talks, Jalili said, while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested any push to restrict the meeting to Iran’s nuclear program would fail.

“They employed all their might and tried hard to prevent Iran from going nuclear,” Iranian state TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. “But Iran went nuclear and there will be no way back.”

A diplomat familiar with the talks says the six powers will seek to nudge Iran toward acknowledging the need to reduce worries that the Islamic Republic might turn its enrichment program to making weapons. He asked for anonymity because the talks are closed.

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