- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 14, 2006

TEHRAN (Agence France-Presse) — Iran said yesterday a year-old offer from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for foreign countries to handle its uranium enrichment activities still stands as a way to break the deadlock over its nuclear program.

Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini also said a suggestion made by Iran earlier this month for a French-led consortium to enrich uranium for Iran on Iranian soil remained “appropriate.”

The spokesman made his comments as the five U.N. Security Council permanent members plus Germany discuss imposing sanctions against Iran over its failure to halt enrichment, a process the West fears could be diverted to making a nuclear bomb.

“Mr. Ahmadinejad in his speech last year to the U.N. General Assembly proposed that other countries participate in the uranium enrichment and this proposal still stands,” Mr. Hosseini said, according to the Web site of state broadcaster IRIB.

“We have received proposals from partners, but the final decision has not been made yet,” he said later in an interview with state television. He did not specify who the partners were.

Mr. Ahmadinejad had proposed in his 2005 U.N. speech to “engage in serious partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of the uranium enrichment program in Iran.”

His proposal was revived earlier this month when a top Iranian nuclear official said France should form a consortium that would manufacture uranium on Iranian soil and thus break the deadlock. However, on both occasions his idea was met with a cool reception from Western powers, who object to enrichment done in Iran. Enriched uranium can be used to power nuclear reactors or atomic bombs.

“The Iranian nation is not scared of possible sanctions and is determined to go on its way to the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” Mr. Hosseini said.

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