Iran Leader Rejects Even Brief Halt in Its Uranium Enrichment Efforts

(source: New York Times)
Sunday, October 1, 2006

TEHRAN, Sept. 30 (Agence France-Presse) — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday that Iran would not halt uranium enrichment even for a short period.

“They want us to suspend for a short period, and then they will use this for propaganda and say Iran has suspended and it has caved in,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a speech to students on the first day of the new university term, according to the student news agency ISNA.

“Nobody has the right to make Iran back down over its rights,” he said. “With rationality and with logic, we will defend the rights of Iran.”

The comments come just two days after talks between Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, ended in Berlin without agreement. European diplomats have said that Mr. Larijani offered a two-month suspension in talks recently. Some diplomats say there may be division within Iran’s leadership over whether to allow a suspension.

European diplomats still hope Iran will agree to some kind of suspension under a deal offered by the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany that offers Tehran a package of diplomatic and economic incentives.

The United States, which has refused to hold direct talks with Iran unless it suspends uranium enrichment, has been pushing for more international pressure to halt Tehran’s nuclear program over concerns that it is meant not to produce electricity, as Iran contends, but nuclear arms.

“They have been putting pressure on us to suspend enrichment,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said Saturday. “At first they asked us to suspend for six months, then they asked us to suspend for three months, then for one month. We said no.

“Now they have proposed that we suspend for a short period, for one day, but we asked them, ‘Why do you want us to suspend?’

“They said suspend for a few days and explain that you have technical problems. But we have no technical problems! Why should we lie to the people?”

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