Iran wants 'constructive' nuclear talks

Islamic republic's official news agency: Teheran won't halt uranium enrichment for negotiations.

Ahmadinejad nuclear 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Ahmadinejad nuclear 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran welcomes a "constructive" dialogue with world powers over its nuclear program - but insisted that it won't halt its uranium enrichment activities, the official IRNA news agency reported Wednesday. The report was in response to an invitation from the US, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia for a new round of nuclear talks. No date has been set. "Iran ... welcomes constructive and fair talks based on mutual respect," IRNA quoted an official government statement as saying. Iran "believes that the existing problems in the international arena need to be resolved through dialogue." The US and some of its allies accuse Iran of secretly seeking to develop atomic weapons. But Iran denies the allegation, saying its nuclear program is geared toward electricity generation not bombs. Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was preparing a new package of proposals aimed at resolving the dispute with the West over his country's nuclear program and said Teheran was willing build a new relationship with the United States. The US and the five other countries are discussing possible new strategies for dealing with Iran that reportedly involves allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium at its current level for an as-yet undetermined length of time. That position was already endorsed two years ago by Washington and its negotiating partners, who told Teheran that they could accept a continuation of enrichment for a limited time as they moved toward talks. But Iran insisted it be allowed to enrich as part of its rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, ending the effort. The Obama administration has said American representatives will attend the talks, another break from the former administration that, except once, refused to do so. The only American attendance during years of talks occurred last year. US officials have said the immediate goal is to get Iran back to the negotiating table, but have insisted that the ultimate goal is to get Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Iran has repeatedly said it will never give up its right to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel. "The Islamic republic of Iran will pursue its nuclear activities in an active interaction with the International Atomic Energy Agency and within the framework of the NPT like other agency members," IRNA quoted the statement as saying. Uranium enriched at low levels is used to produce nuclear fuel but further enrichment makes it suitable for use in building nuclear weapons.