Iran will not be ‘harmed’ despite nuclear pressure

Tehran, September 30: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on said Tehran will not be “harmed”, whatever happens in talks with the six major powers.

“The leaders of these countries made a historic mistake with their comments about the new plant,” state television website quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

“After this they also said Iran must give access to the facility as quickly as possible,” the hawkish president said.

“Who are you to tell the agency (International Atomic Energy Agency) and Iran what to do?” he added, referring to the UN nuclear watchdog.

The IAEA said last week that Iran had informed it on September 21 that it was building the new uranium enrichment plant near the central holy city of Qom.

The news sparked a US outcry and Washington called on Tehran to agree to “immediate, unfettered access” by IAEA inspectors to the site.

On Tuesday, atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran was ready to discuss world concerns about the plant and would submit a timetable for inspections to the UN watchdog “very soon.”

But IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said on Wednesday that Iran had been on the “wrong side of the law” by not informing the agency earlier that it was building the plant.

“Iran was supposed to inform us on the day it was decided to construct the facility. They have not done that,” ElBaradei said in an interview with India’s CNN-IBN television channel.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is to hold talks in Geneva on Thursday with representatives of the six powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday that the United States would bring up its concerns about uranium enrichment, even if Tehran refuses to discuss the issue.

Uranium enrichment is the sensitive process that lies at the centre of concerns over Iran’s real amibitions.

The process can produce the fuel for nuclear power or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

Ahmadinejad said the Geneva talks gave an “exceptional opportunity for US and a few European countries to correct the way they interact with other world nations.”

But he said Iran would not be “harmed” by the talks, whatever their outcome.

“The negotiators can definitely adopt any policy that they want, but we will not be harmed,” the Fars new agency quoted the president as saying.

“Iran has prepared itself for any condition and our nation has learnt over the past 30 years to stand on its feet and change any circumstance to its benefit.”

As he left Tehran for Geneva on Wednesday, Iran’s chief negotiator Jalili said he was adopting a “positive approach” towards the talks.

“We are going to Europe for this negotiation with a positive approach and I hope this is an opportunity for others also,” Jalili told reporters at the airport.

Ahmadinejad’s media advisor, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, warned that Iran would not allow “power and force to rule the negotiation”.

“We remind the Western parties in the Geneva talks of the necessity of using the culture of negotiation and avoiding immoral concepts of stick and carrot,” Javanfekr said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki meanwhile told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York that Iran would not give up its “right” to nuclear technology.

“Iran, in defending its absolute right to develop civilian nuclear technology, will never bow under political pressure,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

German foreign ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner said the talks were “an opportunity to establish together whether these words, this assurance of a readiness to talk, will be followed by deeds.”

“Iran is comprehensively failing to cooperate, it is comprehensively failing to live up to its international commitments,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told reporters.

Iran insists it has the right to develop nuclear technology, which it says is aimed at generating energy for its growing population.

Although Iran has oil, it is still dependent on petrol imports to meet about 40 percent of domestic consumption.

Israel is the only country in the Middle Ease that actually has nuclear weapons.

Observers say due the strong Jewish and pro-Israel lobbies in the US and some European countries, these countries have taken a hypocritical stance in relation to nuclear issues in the region.

Tehran had repeatedly protested against Israeli and US war threats, warning them that it would retaliate in the event of any strike against Iran.