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Iran leader says he is open to talks

Iran's president says he is ready to negotiate with the US and other countries over his country's nuclear programme but warns that threats against his country will make talks more difficult.

Last Modified: 11 May 2006 07:34 GMT
Ahmadinejad is in Indonesia on a three-day state visit

Iran's president says he is ready to negotiate with the US and other countries over his country's nuclear programme but warns that threats against his country will make talks more difficult.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his comments on Thursday after key UN Security Council members agreed to present Tehran with a choice of incentives or sanctions in deciding whether to suspend uranium enrichment.

The Iranian leader told Indonesia's Metro TV that he was unconcerned about the possibility of UN sanctions, saying the West had more to lose than Iran did if the country was isolated.

Ahmadinejad is visiting Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, on a three-day state visit.

While Washington has said it favours a diplomatic end to the dispute, it has not ruled out military force and is leading a charge at the UN for economic sanctions to be brought down on Iran.

"We do not need to be dependent on others," Ahmadinejad said, adding that international isolation would serve only to "motivate" the country's nuclear scientists.

He said the country would talk to anyone except Israel, which Tehran does not recognise.

Ahmadinejad also on Thursday called Israel a tyrannical regime that one day will be destroyed.

Ahmadinejad, who was speaking to crowd of students in the Indonesian capital, has previously said Israel should be wiped off the map.

Rowhani letter

Earlier, a leading representative of Iran's supreme leader proposed new steps by his country to resolve the nuclear standoff with the UN, including ratification of an agreement for surprise UN inspections of nuclear facilities.

The proposals come in a letter from Hassan Rowhani, a moderate in Iran's Shia cleric-led ruling establishment, to Time magazine, posted on its website on Wednesday.

Rowhani - Iran's former top nuclear negotiator until he was removed by Ahmadinejad last year - laid out an eight-point scenario for resolving the standoff.

Rowhani (L) has laid out an eight-
point solution to the stalemate

He suggested strengthening UN inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities to ensure it cannot develop nuclear weapons but without giving up uranium enrichment as the UN has demanded.

In the letter, he underlined that the proposals were his personal opinion, rather than an official Iranian position.

Rowhani is close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader who holds final say in all matters in Iran.

He is Khamenei's representative on the Supreme National Security Council, which oversees Iran's nuclear negotiations with the outside world. Rowhani is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, a council that chooses or dismisses the supreme leader.

Snap inspections

In the letter, Rowhani said Iran would "consider ratifying" the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), which allows the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct surprise inspections of its nuclear facilities and inspect other facilities not officially declared as nuclear sites.

"There are no limits to our dialogue. But if someone points an arm [a weapon] at your face and says you must speak, will you do that?"

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
Iranian president

Iran signed the Additional Protocol in 2003 but it was never ratified by parliament. Nevertheless, Tehran allowed IAEA inspectors to carry out surprise inspections including 26 visits to military facilities under the protocol until February, when Iran ended all voluntary co-operation with the agency amid the escalating confrontation with the West.

Rowhani said Iran would also "address the question of preventing break-out from the NPT", the international pact under which nations commit not to produce nuclear weapons.

He said the Security Council should set a "fixed period" for Iran and the IAEA the negotiate a "credible plan" with his ideas.

Source:
Agencies
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