Iran optimistic over nuclear talks with EU

Iran said Sunday that a resumption of talks with Europe over Tehran's controversial nuclear program could lead to important results.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi reiterated that Iran would not accept conditions to the talks, which broke off in August.

"If Europeans respect our right, we are optimistic about Iran-Europe talks," Asefi told reporters, adding that Iran was entering the talks without any prejudgment. "Important talks could be held and important results could be gained."

Talks between Britain, France, Germany and Iran broke off in August after Tehran restarted uranium conversion. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday that talks would resume within the next two weeks.

No date has been set for a resumption of talks, which will be held on the level of senior experts, Asefi said. "Iran follows logic. It has supported reasoning since the beginning. In fact, it was the other side who politicized the issue," he said.

Asefi rejected the possibility of talking with the United States over the case. "Negotiations with the United States are not on our agenda. There is no need for it. Actually the U.S. intervention in the case is one of the reasons for its complexity."

Last week, the U.S. State Department announced that Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, had been authorized to meet with Iranian officials about Iraq. The United States and Iran have not had regular diplomatic relations since militant students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

Iran has been under intense pressure to curb its nuclear program, which the United States claims is part of an effort to produce weapons. Iran says its program is aimed at generating electricity.

While Iran has frozen its enrichment program, it restarted uranium conversion a step toward enrichment in August. The International Atomic Energy Agency has warned Iran that its nuclear program could be referred to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions on the country.

On Saturday, Iran approved a bill that would block international inspections of its atomic facilities if it is referred to the Security Council. The step strengthens the government's hand in resisting international pressure to permanently abandon uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for either nuclear reactors or atomic bombs.

The United States and European Union want Iran to permanently halt uranium enrichment. But Tehran says the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allows it to pursue a nuclear program for peaceful purposes. It has said that it will never give up the right to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel, reported AP. P.T.

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