Iranian leader: Teheran will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday Iran will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights but is ready to sit and talk with world powers over "global challenges."
Ahmadinejad also said Iran will present its package of proposals to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany but rejected any deadline for such talks.
The hard-line Iranian president didn't specify what will be up for discussion - or if it would even involve its disputed nuclear program - but vaguely said Iran has prepared a package of proposals that would "identify challenges facing humanity ... and resolve global concerns."
"From our point of view, Iran's nuclear issue is over. We continue our work within the framework of global regulations and in close interaction with the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said. "We will never negotiate over obvious rights of the Iranian nation."
President Barack Obama and European allies have given Iran until the end of September to take up an offer of nuclear talks with six world powers and enjoy trade incentives should it suspend uranium enrichment activities. If not, Iran could face harsher punitive sanctions.
Iran has repeatedly vowed it will never suspend enrichment work, saying it has every right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.
"It is very clear that this (setting deadline) is incompatible with today's needs and directions of the Iranian nation," Ahmadinejad told a press conference Monday. "Resolving global issues require constructive interaction on the basis of justice and respect."
The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity, not bomb.
Iran says allegations of nuclear weapons studies by Teheran is based on forged documents but the US and its European allies want to draw Iran back into negotiations over such concerns.
"The proposals we have prepared seeks to identify challenges facing humanity and basic directions for a durable solution to those challenges ... we are ready, within a logical and just framework, to sit and talk with all those ... who can make contribution to reform global affairs," Ahmadinejad told reporters.
Iran has said the incentives package has some "common ground" with Tehran's own proposals for a resolution to the standoff.
Germany and France - both important trade partners with Iran - have recently become far more forceful in their threats of possible sanctions.
Ahmadinejad also renewed his offer for a public debate with Obama.
"Once again, I announce that I'm ready for debate and dialogue in front of global media on global issues," he said.
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