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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran not to give up its right to civilian nuclear tech - Larijani

RIA Novosti

09/04/2007 16:51 TEHRAN, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - Iran will not give up its right to civilian nuclear technology, but is ready to hold talks on its nuclear program aimed at reaching an agreement, Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Monday.

Since Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, the country has been the focus of international concerns, as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program. But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.

"We are ready for talks with the West to reach an agreement that guarantees the opposite side in the talks a civilian focus to the Iranian nuclear program," Ali Larijani was quoted by Iranian TV as saying. "But during the negotiations, we are not going to give up our rights."

He said one of the reasons why Iran wanted to produce fuel for nuclear power plants independently was a distrust of European countries regarding the nuclear sphere.

"Even having 20 NPPs, the Iranian nation will not feel independent in case we need nuclear fuel from Europe," Larijani said.

"Any deviation from the right to civilian nuclear technologies is a betrayal of future generations," he said.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iran will continue its nuclear program and that the global community's demand to halt uranium enrichment was unacceptable.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously March 24 to impose new sanctions against the Islamic Republic for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

The new UN Security Council resolution was passed following Tehran's refusal to comply with the previous resolution adopted December 23, 2006.

The new resolution freezes foreign accounts of 13 companies and 15 individuals involved in uranium enrichment and missile development projects, imposes visa restrictions and bans arms exports from Iran. It also threatens new sanctions, if Iran does not comply with the resolution within 60 days, and urges the Islamic Republic to return to negotiations.

Russia is building the Bushehr NPP in southern Iran under a 1995 contract. The $1 billion project was in jeopardy after the Russian contractor Atomstroyexport said that Tehran had not made any payments for the NPP construction since mid-January, and that by the fourth quarter of 2006 the project had only received 60% of the required funding.

The company warned that the launch of the NPP and nuclear fuel deliveries could be delayed as a result.

On March 26, Atomstroyexport announced that Tehran had resumed financing of the Bushehr nuclear power plant and it had received the first payment from Iran.

The Bushehr project implemented under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog was originally scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2006, but the date has been postponed five times.

The project was originally started by Germany's Siemens in 1975, but work stopped following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

A group of Russian experts left Moscow for Tehran Sunday for talks to try and break the stalemate over project financing, Atomstroyexport said Monday.

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