- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

BRUSSELS — A top negotiator from the European Union said yesterday that “endless hours” of talks with Iran about suspending its nuclear program have failed to make any progress, while the Iranian president said U.N. sanctions would not stop Tehran from enriching uranium.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told the European Parliament that Iran must decide whether it wants to continue negotiations about suspending enrichment as demanded by the U.N. Security Council.

“Today, Iran has made no commitment to suspend,” Mr. Solana said. “This dialogue I am maintaining cannot last forever, and it is up to Iranians now to decide whether its time has come to end.”

He suggested that if the talks ended, the standoff should be moved to the Security Council.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned the West that sanctions would not stop his government from uranium enrichment.

“You are mistaken if you assume that the Iranian nation will stop for even a moment from the path toward using nuclear energy due to your nagging,” he told supporters, drawing chants of “Death to America” from a crowd in Hashtgerd, outside the Iranian capital, Tehran.

“It’s been 27 years that [the West hasn’t] allowed us to use technologies that they possess,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “This nation is powerful and won’t give in to one iota of coercion.”

Mr. Solana has been leading talks with Iran’s top negotiator, Ali Larijani, on behalf of Britain, France, Germany, China, the United States and Russia, which are seeking to persuade Iran to suspend work on processing uranium in return for a package of incentives.

Iran insists it is developing enrichment technology to produce fuel for nuclear reactors that generate electricity. But Washington and others say Tehran’s real goal is to use enriched uranium to build nuclear weapons.

“We haven’t discussed sanctions here in New York for weeks, many weeks,” said John R. Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “But as soon as I’m instructed, I’m prepared to begin as soon as the cable comes in.”

Mr. Solana told the lawmakers that four months of talks with Mr. Larijani had not made any progress.

“We have reached common ground only on a number of issues, an important number of issues, but we have not agreed in what is the key point, which is the question of suspension of activities before the start of the negotiations” with the West on Iran’s use of nuclear technology, he said.

Mr. Solana said he remained committed to continuing talks.

“I have negotiated endless hours. It has been my top priority, because I am convinced, I continue to be convinced, that this is a crucial subject … not only for the Europeans, but for the international community as a whole,” he said.

Diplomats familiar with the Solana-Larijani talks said Tuesday that the effort was all but dead because of Iran’s continuing refusal to suspend enrichment. They said Mr. Larijani told Mr. Solana he had been unable to sell the concept of even a limited enrichment freeze to the more hard-line leadership in Tehran.

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