Iran News ...


Rafsanjani urges West to return to nuclear talks with Iran

TEHRAN, Feb. 23 (Mehr News Agency) -- Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has called on the Western powers to return to talks on Iran's nuclear program and to stop making threats.

"The West should abandon coercion. They should understand that they will gain nothing by threatening and bullying actions," Rafsanjani said in a sermon at Friday prayers in Tehran.

In a report issued on Thursday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei concluded that Iran had not suspended its nuclear fuel enrichment as the UN Security Council had demanded.

"Following Mr. ElBaradei's report, they (Western governments) are readying tough new action, but I say to them that they will achieve nothing this way," AFP quoted Rafsanjani as saying.

He advised the West to return to the negotiating table, saying, "We are ready to give them the necessary guarantees."

The IAEA and the West should realize that issuing incorrect reports and resolutions will create nothing but problems for them, he warned.

The former president went on to say that the United States seeks to create division between Shias and Sunnis to attain the goals that it could not achieve through military action.

"At this juncture, the Shia and Sunni ulema should stand by each other to prevent their differences from increasing. Otherwise, Shias and Sunnis will receive a heavy blow," he stated.

The Shia-Sunni problems should be resolved through dialogue, he said, adding, "We should strengthen our unity more than ever so that the enemy cannot breach it."

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Deputy Director Mohammad Saeedi told the Mehr News Agency on Thursday that the Security Council's declaration that Iran's nuclear program is a threat to world peace runs contrary to ElBaradei's report.

"Since the Security Council's demand for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment had no legal basis, Iran did not accept it," he added.

Tehran has repeatedly declared that it is ready to resolve the remaining issues with the IAEA within a defined framework over the next three weeks, provided that Iran's nuclear dossier is returned to the IAEA, he said.

"The moment Iran's dossier is returned to the IAEA, Tehran will be prepared to reach a legal compromise based on its commitments to the body," he noted.

The IAEA chief's report verifies that there has been no evidence of diversion in Iran's nuclear program, Saeedi pointed out.

Meanwhile, Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Ali-Asghar Soltanieh said, "Many parts of ElBaradei's report reveal that there is no deviation in Iran's nuclear activities."

In an interview with the Al-Jazeera network on Friday, Soltanieh called the UN Security Council resolution against Iran illegal and a violation of international law and the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"The resolution against Iran's (nuclear) program is a clear violation of the NPT and the IAEA Statute," he said.

The Security Council passed a resolution on December 23 imposing limited sanctions on Iran and demanding it freeze enrichment.

... Payvand News - 2/24/07 ... --

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