Iran ready for nuclear talks without preconditions: Rafsanjani

March 15, 2008

TEHRAN – Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday said Iran is prepared to hold talks with the West over its nuclear program on an equal footing and without preconditions.

The UN Security Council on March 3 issued a third sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear activities.
The sanctions resolution calls for more travel and financial curbs on Iranian individuals and companies and makes some restrictions mandatory. It also expands a previous partial ban on trade in items with both civilian and military uses to cover sales of all such technology to Iran.
“We believe the solution is that they remove preconditions and negotiate honestly. If there is an ambiguity, Iran will settle it and if there is not, they should let Iran exercise its inalienable right,” Rafsanjani told worshippers in a sermon at Friday prayers.
He dismissed U.S. allegations that Iran had conducted a study into building atomic weapons as a pretext to impose tougher sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Addressing a meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors on February 25, International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director Ollie Heinonen claimed Iran has been conducting weaponization studies including clandestine uranium enrichment.
“We do not have a problem with the agency and the Board of Governors but new claims have been used as a pretext for another resolution,” he argued.
Rafsanjani, who also chairs the Assembly of Experts, advised the United States to adopt a logical approach towards Iran’s scientific developments.
A hostile policy on Iran “will hurt more the United States than us. Today the U.S. is stuck in a dead end. Devaluation of the U.S. dollar has caused economic slump in the country and unemployment has risen by 60 thousand. The U.S. has admitted that it has reached a dead end in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the cleric observed.
He criticized IEAE Director General Mohamed Elbaradei for presenting an ambiguous report on Iran’s nuclear activities.
“Elbaradei was not sincere in his report and presented the issues in a way that others could misuse them,” he complained.
Released on February 22, the report said “The agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.”
However it said while Tehran had cleared up most of the outstanding questions on its nuclear program, it did not address allegations about its purported work on nuclear weapons and was also expanding uranium enrichment