Negotiator says no progress with Iran - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Negotiator says no progress with Iran

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Posted: Wednesday, October 4, 2006 11:19 am | Updated: 3:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

BRUSSELS, Belgium - A top European Union negotiator said Wednesday that "endless hours" of talks with Iran about its nuclear program have failed to make any progress, while the Iranian president said U.N. sanctions would not stop Tehran from enriching uranium.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told the European Parliament Iran must decide whether it wants to continue negotiations about suspending enrichment as demanded by the U.N. Security Council.

"Today, Iran has made no commitment to suspend," Solana said. "This dialogue I am maintaining cannot last forever and it is up to Iranians now to decide whether its time has come to end."

He suggested that if the talks ended, the standoff should be moved to the Security Council.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned the West that sanctions would not stop his government from uranium enrichment.

"You are mistaken if you assume that the Iranian nation will stop for even a moment from the path toward using nuclear energy due to your nagging," he told supporters, drawing chants of "Death to America!" from a crowd in Hashtgerd, outside the Iranian capital, Tehran.

"It's been 27 years that they (the West) haven't allowed us to use technologies that they possess," Ahmadinejad said. "This nation is powerful and won't give in to one iota of coercion."

Solana has been leading talks with Iran's top negotiator, Ali Larijani, on behalf of Britain, France, Germany, China, the United States and Russia, which are seeking to persuade Iran to suspend work on processing uranium in return for a package of incentives.

Iran insists it is developing enrichment technology to produce fuel for nuclear reactors that generate electricity. But Washington and others suspect Tehran's real goal is to use enriched uranium to build nuclear weapons.

Solana told the lawmakers that four months of talks with Larijani had not made any progress.

"We have reached common ground only on a number of issues, an important number of issues, but we have not agreed in what is the key point, which is the question of suspension of activities before the start of the negotiations" with the West on Iran's use of nuclear technology, he said.

Solana said he remained committed to continuing talks.

"I have negotiated endless hours, it has been my top priority, because I am convinced, I continue to be convinced that this is a crucial subject ... not only for the Europeans, but for the international community as a whole," he said.

Diplomats familiar with the Solana-Larijani talks said Tuesday that the effort was all but dead due to Iran's continuing refusal to suspend enrichment.

Ahmadinejad said he wanted negotiations to continue.

"We are for talks. We can talk with each other and remove ambiguities. We have logic. We want talks to continue," he said.

The negotiations had been seen as a last-ditch attempt to avoid a full-blown confrontation between Iran and the Security Council after Tehran ignored an Aug. 31 deadline to suspend enrichment or face punishment.

Foreign ministers of the major powers urging Iran to suspend enrichment could meet in the coming days to assess the status of negotiations, an EU official said.

The official refused to elaborate on when the meeting might take place, saying only that it was under consideration. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Ahmadinejad said the U.S. and its European allies want Iran to suspend enrichment as a first step toward forcing a permanent halt in the nuclear program because they opposed Tehran's progress.

"If we stop (enrichment), then what would we negotiate about? You want us to stop and then run after you. Why would we do that?" he said. "The Iranian nation won't be deceived."

Before Solana spoke, Iranian state television announced that Ahmadinejad had ordered that the country's nuclear facilities opened to foreign tourists to prove the program is peaceful.

"After an order by the president ... foreign tourists can visit Iran's nuclear facilities," the head of Iran's tourism division, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, was quoted as saying.

The report did not clarify the definition of a foreign tourist.

The announcement came a day after Iran's parliament voted to debate a bill that would require the government to fingerprint U.S. citizens visiting Iran. The measure is a response to the fingerprinting of Iranians visiting the United States under a procedure implemented in 2002 that affects citizens of several nations.

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