Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator has given his backing to talks to resolve its atomic standoff with the West, while insisting that Tehran will not give up its plans to develop a full nuclear fuel cycle.
"Iran deems it a principle to continue talks and it accepts negotiation as the right manner," Ali Larijani, installed as secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council on Monday, told the Sharq daily in an interview published on Tuesday.
European diplomats have expressed concern that Larijani, a conservative close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will adopt a tougher line on the nuclear issue than his predecessor Hassan Rohani, informs Reuters.
The United States has stood aside while European governments have negotiated with Iran. After prolonged talks with Britain, France and Germany, during which Iran put uranium conversion on hold, Iran this month rejected a package of aid measures, including offers of nuclear fuel in exchange for a promise to abandon plans for uranium enrichment.
Iran then restarted work at its Isfahan plant in central Iran, where uranium is converted to gas - the last step in processing radioactive ore before it can undergo enrichment to become reactor fuel or the material for nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, responded with a resolution Thursday urging the Iranians to again put the process on hold. Diplomats familiar with agency's proceedings said Iran was given a Sept. 3 deadline to halt or face possible referral to the U.N. Security Council for consideration of sanctions against its struggling economy, reports Washington Post.