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UPDATED: 08:29, November 03, 2004
Khatami rejects uranium enrichment suspension
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Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on Tuesday rejected the European demand of unlimited suspension of uranium enrichment, saying the suspension can only be carried out voluntarily.

"The Iranian nation must not be deprived of its rights on nuclear technology, and no one can take away our legitimate rights," Khatami told reporters after submitting a report to the Majlis (Parliament) on the executive performance of his government.

"Neither the government nor the nation would let this right, which is related to the country's dignity, be abandoned," Khatami said.

"No pressure can be exerted about any decision to carry out the suspension. If Iran decides to suspend enrichment, the decision will come voluntarily and not out of pressure," Khatami said.

Even so, he expressed optimism that the nuclear talks with the European Union (EU) would not come to a negative end.

"I am optimistic, for both sides are showing flexibility," Khatami said, expressing hope that the remaining outstanding issues would be settled through logic and understanding.

Khatami also stressed that if the international community decides independently and is not subjected to the US pressure, the nuclear issue of Iran can be closed.

The Majlis on Sunday passed the outline of a bill aimed at urging the government to resume uranium enrichment as the EU is trying hard to encourage the country to unlimitedly freeze nuclear activities, especially the enrichment.

Iran and the EU will hold another round of nuclear negotiation in Paris this Friday after two rounds of fruitless talks in Vienna late Oct.

The European trio of France, Germany and Britain has offered to supply Iran with necessary nuclear technology and equipments, including a light-water reactor, in return for Tehran's unlimited suspension of uranium enrichment.

Iran at first termed the proposal as "unacceptable" but softenedits stance later.

However, Iranian Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei has said that unlimited suspension of enrichment was an "illogical demand" and Iran would reject it.

Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said on Monday that Iran was optimistic about the outcome of the nuclear talks while all negative consequences have also been taken into cautious account.

Source: Xinhua

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