Thursday, January 19, 2006

Rice: No Point in More Iran Negotiations

TEHRAN, Iran Jan 18, 2006 — France, with the support of the United States, rejected Iran's request for more negotiations on the Islamic republic's nuclear program, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying Wednesday "there's not much to talk about" after Iran resumed atomic activities.

As European countries pushed ahead with efforts to have Iran brought before the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear activities, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused them of trying to deprive Iran of peaceful technology.

"We are asking they step down from their ivory towers and act with a little logic," Ahmadinejad said. "Who are you to deprive us from fulfilling our goals?

"You think you are the lord of the world and everybody should follow you. But that idea is a wrong idea."

In Vienna, Austria, the International Atomic Energy Agency said a special meeting of its 35-nation board of governors would be held Feb. 2 at the request of Britain, France and Germany.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said European nations were seeking the "greatest possible consensus" on dealing with Iran, and the upcoming meeting was a "very important moment."

"What we wish is that there is the greatest possible consensus to mark clearly the limit of what we can accept," he said in Berlin after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Earlier, Iran's foreign minister said he did not believe the country would be referred to the Security Council, which has the power to impose economic and political sanctions. However, diplomats say the council is unlikely to take such action since China and Russia, two veto-wielding members, oppose referral.

Tehran's defiant tone came as France, with U.S. backing, rejected Iran's request for a resumption of negotiations, saying Tehran must first suspend its nuclear-related activities.

Iran asked for a ministerial-level meeting with France, Germany, Britain and the European Union, but its decision to resume some uranium enrichment-related activities "means that it is not possible for us to meet under satisfactory conditions to pursue these discussions," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said in Paris.

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