Iran envoy says call for enrichment halt ‘not acceptable’

ImagePARIS, Aug 17, 2006 (AFP) – Iran’s ambassador to Paris reaffirmed Thursday that international calls for his country to halt uranium enrichment were "not acceptable", after Tehran said it would be prepared to discuss a freeze.

"The suspension demand is one that has absolutely no legal basis. It is a political demand that is not acceptable by our public opinion or by parliament," Iran envoy Ali Ahani told French radio RMC.

"We do not believe in nuclear weapons at all because we do not think they can guarantee our security, but we insist on the use of these technologies for peaceful ends," he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday that Tehran was ready to "discuss" a uranium enrichment freeze, barely two weeks before a UN Security Council deadline to halt the sensitive nuclear work or risk sanctions.

A day earlier however, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad outright rejected a UN Security Council resolution demanding Iran suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment by August 31 or risk possible sanctions.

The West, led by the United States, suspects Iran could be trying to build nuclear weapons, charges denied by Tehran which says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.

Tehran has said it will respond on August 22 to an offer by the five UN Security Council members, plus Germany, for a package of incentives including cooperation and multilateral talks in return for suspending enrichment.