Iran claims victory in nuclear talks

AFP, Wednesday 8 Dec 2010

Iran claimed victory Wednesday in renewed talks with world powers over its controversial nuclear programme and vowed to make no concessions in the face of international pressure

Iran claimed victory Wednesday in renewed talks with world powers over its controversial nuclear programme and vowed to make no concessions in the face of international pressure.

Chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said the six world powers have accepted Tehran's conditions for the talks as Iran's conservative media praised Jalili for his "solid" stance.

"They joined the talks maintaining their own view, but Iran said the talks should continue based on Iran's conditions. So they have shown serious change," Jalili said of the talks that resumed this week.

"We frankly asked that talks should be for the sake of cooperation, and they accepted. If they remain committed to this agreement, then the talks have been successful," he said in an interview carried on state television's website.

After a 14-month break, the talks on the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme resumed in Geneva this week, with an agreement to meet again in Istanbul at the end of January despite clear differences.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said after the two days of talks ended on Tuesday that it was agreed to hold the Istanbul talks to "discuss practical ideas and ways of cooperating towards the resolution of our core concerns about the nuclear issue."

Barely an hour later, however, Jalili said both sides agreed only to further "talks based on cooperation" and that everything else was "not true."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated Wednesday that the country would not back down on uranium enrichment, which is the key issue of international concern over Tehran's atomic programme.

The hardliner however said "Iran is ready for nuclear cooperation and nuclear material production with the group of P5+1," the official IRNA news agency reported, referring to the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

"Under no circumstances will Iran back down on its rights in nuclear fuel cycle, the 20 per cent enrichment of uranium and building (nuclear) plants," he told university students in the central city of Arak.

"The West had better cooperate with Iran in the nuclear field," he said, calling on global powers to lift sanctions against Tehran.

Iran is under four sets of UN sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, the sensitive process which can be used to make nuclear fuel or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atom bomb.

Tehran rejects suspicions by the West and Israel that its uranium enrichment programme masks a covert bid to acquire nuclear weapons, maintaining it is developing nuclear technology for solely peaceful purposes.

Analysts said the Geneva talks have failed to dissipate deep distrust between world powers and Tehran, but that they marked the beginning of a new phase of dialogue.

Iran's conservative media Wednesday praised Jalili over his "solid" stance and hailed the talks as a good start. "Jalili returned from Geneva with full hands," said a headline in Khabar, which is close to parliament speaker Ali Larijani.

Hardline newspaper Siasat Rouz, which is close to the Revolutionary Guard described the talks as a "first positive step." "The 5+1 has to reach a great agreement with Iran," the pro-Ahmadinejad hardline newspaper Vatan Emrouz wrote in an editorial.

"They know well if there is another gap lasting a few months in talks with Iran there will be no issues left for an agreement as Iran might enrich 1,200 kilos of uranium to 20 per cent and be self-sufficient in" nuclear fuel production, it said.

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