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Iran not to cede 'nuclear rights'
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Iran will never abandon its "legal and obvious" right to nuclear technology and will not curb uranium enrichment, Manouchehr Mottaki, the country's foreign minister, has said.

His statement was issued on Tuesday amid talks in Vienna that major powers hopes will lead to restraints on Iran's atomic programme.

Iran won a reprieve from harsher UN sanctions by agreeing in principle at a high-level meeting in Geneva on October 1 to send low-enriched uranium (LEU) to France and Russia for further enrichment into fuel for a reactor that makes cancer-care isotopes.

Talks hosted by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with delegations from Iran, Russian, France and the US, began on Monday but stalled a day later over Tehran's refusal to deal directly with France.

Speaking from Tehran, Mottaki said: "The meetings with world powers and their behaviour shows that Iran's right to have peaceful nuclear technology has been accepted by them.

"Iran will never abandon its legal and obvious right.

'Face-saving compromise'

Mottaki and other officials in the Iranian capital said France could not be part of the uranium supply plan, accusing it of reneging on contracts to deliver nuclear materials in the past.

A senior diplomat familiar with the talks in Vienna told the Reuters news agency that the parties were considering a face-saving compromise drafted by the IAEA.

Under the deal, Iran would sign a contract with Russia who would then sub-contract further work out to France.

French, US and Russian delegations were seen circulating a draft document produced by a series of back-door consultations, with a formal meeting due to resume later on Tuesday.

Other issues to be settled in Vienna were exactly how much LEU Iran would send out and when.

Major powers wanted this to be about 75 per cent of its declared stockpile, and to be shipped abroad in one consignment before the end of the year.

The powers hope that farming out a large amount of Iran's LEU reserve for reprocessing into fuel for its medical isotope reactor, using technology Tehran lacks, will minimise the risk of Iran refining the material to high purity suitable for bombs.

But Mottaki said Iran would not curtail enrichment as part of the LEU deal, as demanded by the UN Security Council.

"Iran will continue its uranium enrichment. It is not linked to buying fuel from abroad," he said.

Mottaki also said Iran did not need France for the fuel plan.

'Not trustworthy'

"There are Russia, America ... I believe these countries are enough. Not too many countries are needed to provide Iran with the fuel," Mottaki said.

"France, based on its shortcomings to fulfil its obligations in the past, is not a trustworthy party to provide fuel for Iran."

Several Western powers fear Iran's declared civilian nuclear energy programme is a front to produce fissile material for atomic bombs, an accusation that Tehran denies.

Iran has been hit by three rounds of UN sanctions for refusing to halt enrichment-related work.

It said on Monday it would not hesitate to produce higher enriched uranium on its territory if the talks in Vienna failed.

Source >  Al Jazeera | oct 20

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