Ahmadinejad: Iran Nuclear Drive 'Non-negotiable'

April 4, 2008

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview published Friday that he would reject any new incentives offered by world powers in return for suspending uranium enrichment.

Asked about possible incentives that Iran suspend its enrichment activities, Ahmadinejad was quoted as telling Japan's Kyodo News:

"This is a non-negotiable subject."

"Iran is a nuclear country and has no reason to give up the technology. If there are to be any preconditions, we must propose preconditions," he said.

The Security Council last month tightened UN sanctions on Iran over its peaceful nuclear program as six major powers offered to resume talks with the Islamic Republic.

The five permanent UN Security Council powers plus Germany reconfirmed and pledged to expand a 2006 offer of economic and trade incentives to Iran in exchange for a freeze of its uranium enrichment activities.

Ahmadinejad told Kyodo that the suspension of its uranium enrichment program was an issue related to the past as "we have passed this stage."

Asked about Iran's conditions to resume talks with the European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana, the Iranian president made it clear that Iran will only negotiate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"We will pursue our nuclear issue in the framework of the agency," he said.

After the UN Security Council approved a third set of sanctions against Iran for not suspending its uranium enrichment program in early March, Ahmadinejad said Iran will not negotiate with any country outside the UN nuclear watchdog on the issue.

On Japanese companies reluctance to do new business in Iran because of the uncertainty caused by the nuclear issue, Ahmadinejad said, "You must ask those companies why they are depriving themselves.

The nuclear issue is a totally political issue."

He also said Japan is "an independent country and must act independently," and should avoid pressure.