Iran `still ready to negotiate solution to nuclear stand-off`
Tehran says only condition is that foreign powers agree to a fuel swap on Iranian territory.
Iran is still ready to negotiate a solution to its nuclear stand-off with the West, but only on the condition that foreign powers agree to a fuel swap on Iranian territory, its foreign ministry said on Monday.
With Washington seeking support from fellow UN Security Council veto holders Russia and China for new sanctions, Iran remains defiant, saying such measures will not stop it developing the nuclear technology it says is for peaceful use.
"We will not withdraw from our [nuclear] rights with threats and pressure, resolutions and sanctions," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Arab language TV Alalam.
At talks last October with Western powers, China and Russia, Iran agreed in principle to send low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing - addressing concerns it was getting close to developing weapons grade nuclear material.
But soon after those talks it insisted it would, instead, consider swapping its low-enriched uranium stocks directly for more highly enriched uranium, and only within its own borders.
Mehmanparast said that remained the condition for a deal and accused the other parties of reneging on their obligations.
"We told them that you are not honest and it seems like you do not want to provide (us) with the fuel and you are cheating," he said, according to Alalam's website.
"If they meet our conditions we are ready to negotiate about the provision of nuclear fuel for Tehran reactor right away, but we won't negotiate over Iran's nuclear activities," he said.
After an deal brokered by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency stalled, Iran started its own 20-percent enrichment process in February at its enrichment site in Natanz, but said the IAEA deal was still on the table and declared itself open to further negotiations.
Atomic chief Ali-Akbar Salehi said last month that Iran was prepared to exchange 1.2 tons of its low-enriched uranium in a single exchange for 120 kilograms of 20-percent-enriched uranium.
Mehmanparast said last week that further UN sanctions, as currently pursued by the West, were a futile effort to stop Iran's nuclear program.
China, a major client for Iranian oil, has so far declined to publicly back renewed sanctions, despite a direct appeal by U.S. President Barack Obama. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called for "flexibility" when he met Iran's nuclear negotiator on Friday.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has dismissed Obama's "extended hand" approach to Iran as empty rhetoric, will "announce a new nuclear achievement" on Friday, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, told ISNA news agency. He gave no details.
Iran said on Sunday China would take part in a nuclear disarmament conference in Tehran later this month, to be held just days after Chinese President Hu Jintao is due to attend a nuclear security summit in Washington.
Iran, embroiled in a deepening nuclear row with the West, says experts and officials from some 60 countries have been invited to the April 17-18 meeting in Tehran, called "Nuclear energy for everyone, nuclear arms for no one."
Iran announced Sunday it will hold an international conference on nuclear disarmament later this month, the official news agency IRNA reported.
The conference is part of efforts by Tehran to show it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
"Iran, as advocate of nuclear disarmament, will hold this conference as a call to all countries to demolish their nuclear arsenals," Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili told IRNA.