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Iran: Ahmadinejad Again Insists On Nuclear Energy

PRAGUE, May 14, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Iran today reiterated that no Western incentives aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program would be acceptable without acknowledgement of Tehran's right to pursue nuclear technology.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said today that he would refuse any deal that would curb Iran's civilian nuclear program. Ahmadinejad made the comment in Tehran, after returning from a five-day visit to Indonesia.

Ahmadinejad said that "any offer that requires us to halt our peaceful nuclear activities will be invalid."

However, the West wants Iran to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities, which are suspected of being part of a covert atomic-weapons program.

European Union powers Britain, France, and Germany are considering offering new incentives to Iran. Their foreign ministers are due to meet along with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on the issue on May 15. The EU has not given details of the new package.

Ready For Dialogue?

Observers say that Iran will be encouraged to import the fuel it needs for its civil nuclear power stations, rather than produce its own. The EU is expected to offer freer trade, political guarantees, and technological incentives.

Iran rejects any moves to impose conditions, but says it is ready for dialogue.

"We are ready to have a dialogue with all the countries of the world, to have cooperation with all the countries in the world, except for the Israeli regime," Ahmadinejad said on May 13 before departing from Indonesia.

He says the "best incentives" for cooperation from Tehran would be the implementation of parts of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that recognize the right of signatory states to do research on and produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Living In The Colonial Era

The Iranian president said Western powers "behave like masters who still believe they are in the colonial era."

"But if the countries that think they can hang a plane with bombs over our heads will then ask us to engage in dialogue or negotiate with them, we will never do that."

Speaking in Indonesia, Ahmadinejad also regretted that U.S. President George W. Bush had not paid serious attention to a letter the Iranian president sent him recently.

"I think Bush was given a historic opportunity," Ahmadinejad said. "As a human being, you are free to walk on the right path or the wrong path. Everyone has their own option."

Ahmadinejad called on Bush "to return to the culture of spirituality."

Bush and other U.S. officials dismissed the letter, saying that it did not address the West's concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

The letter's existence emerged on May 8 and is believed to be the first presidential contact between the two countries in 27 years.

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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