Solana says Iran must decide whether it wants to continue nuclear talks

Wednesday, October 4th 2006, 10:26 am
By: News On 6

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ A European negotiator said Wednesday that ``endless hours'' of talks with Iran about its nuclear program have failed to make any progress, and the Iranian president said sanctions would not stop Tehran from enriching uranium.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana told the European Parliament that Iran must decide whether it wants to continue the negotiations about suspending enrichment.

``Today, Iran has made no commitment to suspend'' enrichment, Solana said.

``This dialogue I am maintaining cannot last forever and it is up to Iranians now to decide whether its time has come to end,'' he said.

He suggested if that was the case, the standoff over Iran should be moved to the U.N. Security Council.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned the West that any possible sanctions would not stop his government from uranium enrichment.

``It's been 27 years that they (the West) haven't allowed us to use technologies that they possess,'' he told a large crowd gathered in Hashtgerd, outside Iran's capital of Tehran.

Solana has been leading talks with Iran's top negotiator, Ali Larijani, on behalf of Britain, France, Germany, China, the United States and Russia, which are seeking to persuade Iran to suspend work on processing uranium in return for a package of incentives.

Solana told the lawmakers that his ``endless hours'' of talks with Larijani have not made any progress.

``We have reached common ground only on a number of issues, an important number of issues, but we have not agreed in what is the key point, which is the question of suspension of activities before the start of the negotiations'' with the West on Iran's use of nuclear technology.

Solana stressed that ``the door to negotiations will always remain open'' with Tehran.

``I am convinced that (the) Iranian dossier can only be solved through negotiations,'' Solana told EU lawmakers.

He urged Iran to continue the talks to prevent the threat of U.N. sanctions, which are now being considered by the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members.

Foreign ministers of the major powers urging Iran to suspend enrichment could meet in the coming days to assess the status of negotiations, an EU official said.

The official refused to elaborate on when the meeting might take place, saying only that it was under consideration. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Solana said he had fixed no date for another face-to-face meeting with Larijani, but said he was willing to travel to Tehran, if the Muslim holy month of Ramadan made it more difficult for Larijani to travel.

The U.S. and others fear Iran is using its nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for generating electricity.