06/09/2006, 00.00
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Tehran seems ready to reject nuclear "package"

Ayatollah Jannati says Iran will never back off on its rights whilst President Ahmadinejad calls for an "even-handed atmosphere" in the dialogue.

Teheran (AsiaNews) – Although by no means unambiguous, signals from Iran seem to indicate that its rulers are moving towards rejection of the package of incentives proposed by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United Nations) plus Germany (aka the "5+1") designed to entice it to give up its uranium enrichment programme.

The ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a conservative cleric who led Friday's prayers today in Tehran, said, in a sermon commemorating the 17th anniversary of the death of the ayatollah Khomeini, that "Iran's right to have access to peaceful nuclear technology is undeniable."

His words were lent credibility by the fact that his speech made explicit reference to Iran's supreme leader, the ayatollah Khamenei, and was reprinted in Iran's news agency, IRNA, and linked to 5+1 package of incentives.

Although Jannati made reference to the need for dialogue, he stressed that Iran had the right to have access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and insisted that "[t]he Iranian nation and officials and Supreme Leader [. . .] and all those who have hands in administration of the country's affairs will not accept Iran's withdrawal from its inalienable rights [sic]."

His words were echoed yesterday by Hamid Reza Haj-Babai, a conservative member of Iran's National Security Commission, who, in an interview with Rooz, said that in the "incentives" in the offered package were insignificant.

"[W]e do not accept [the] suspension of our nuclear activities. Everything else is peripheral. In fact we have not [sic] serious problems with the West on other issues. So we can talk about all of them with them and reach an understanding. But the first thing that must be acknowledged is that we do not accept the suspension" of the programme, which is a preliminary condition for the 5+1 group.

Yet, it would appear that a final decision has not yet been taken. In a recent speech Iranian President Ahmadinejad is quoted by the Iranian Student's News Agency (ISNA) as saying that negotiations need an "even-handed atmosphere".

"The Iranian nation," he noted, "strongly rejects an atmosphere which the other side thinks that through applying force from one side and inviting to negotiations from the other side they can make things happen [sic]."

"If there is to be a talk held [sic] regarding the nuclear issue, it should be done in a reasonable atmosphere, if there is to be a limitation placed it should be placed for all."

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