(photo credit: AP)
Teheran will not negotiate with the West over its nuclear "rights," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said again on Sunday, after the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany accepted the Islamic republic's offer to hold talks.
"From the Iranian nation's viewpoint, [Iran's] nuclear case is closed," Reuters quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Britain's new ambassador to Teheran, citing a report by official media.
"Possessing peaceful nuclear technology is the Iranian nation's legal and definitive right and it will not hold discussions about its undeniable rights," he reportedly said.
Over the weekend, Israeli officials expressed concern at the willingness of Western states, particularly the US, to begin a dialogue with Iran despite Teheran's refusal to negotiate over its nuclear program.
Iran could be dissuaded from its nuclear course, but the time constraints were severe, Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor, who is a member of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's inner cabinet, said on Friday.
"If there is enough political and economic action put together, there is a good chance that Iran will listen to reason. I don't think they are irrational," Meridor said. But, he cautioned, the Islamic republic was already "not very far away" from being able to construct nuclear weapons.
Meridor's comments followed Friday's announcement that the P5+1 group of nations- the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - had accepted Iran's offer on Wednesday to hold talks.
The decision was announced in Brussels by Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief who has served as an intermediary between Teheran and the six powers.
The decision to pursue dialogue came despite Ahmadinejad's statement earlier in the week that his country would neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights.
Teheran was only prepared to talk about "global challenges," he had said.
Haviv Rettig Gur and Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report