Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Iran at Loggerheads With European Negotiators

Dow Jones Newswires, AP:
Iran is at loggerheads with the European negotiators it is in talks with over its nuclear program and both sides have signaled mistrust, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Wednesday.

Khatami's remarks came just before U.S. President George W. Bush said during a visit to Germany that it was vital for world leaders to stand up against the Iranian regime developing nuclear weapons. He reiterated that giving up his country's nuclear program, which Iran maintains is entirely peaceful, was not an option.

"There are deep differences of opinion between Iran and the Europeans," Khatami told reporters. "We have to give objective guarantees to the (European) gentlemen that we won't divert from the peaceful path. They must also ... give objective guarantees that our rights and security will be protected."

"Neither my government nor any other (Iranian) government can give up the definite right of the Iranian nation to have peaceful nuclear technology," Khatami said after a Cabinet meeting.

"We didn't even allow the Europeans to discuss (a permanent) halt of Iran 's nuclear activities and they accepted that," he added.

Iranian officials have suggested that accepting a permanent freeze of nuclear activities would lead to the collapse of the government since the program is a matter of national pride and prestige.

Khatami, however, said he is still hopeful regarding talks with European negotiators.

"Although the pace of talks is slow, I'm not pessimistic," he said. ...