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Iran Cleric Says Conditions Unacceptable On Nuclear Fuel

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami: "The Iranian nation is wise and will not be deceived by the nuclear deal."
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- The UN nuclear watchdog is legally obliged to provide Iran with nuclear fuel for its research reactor without setting any conditions, a hard-line Iranian cleric has told worshippers.

European Union leaders have called on Iran to accept a UN-drafted nuclear proposal under which it would send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad by the end of the year for further enrichment to turn it into fuel for a medical reactor in Tehran.

Ahmad Khatami, a member of a powerful clerical body that can appoint or dismiss Iran's supreme leader, said in a sermon broadcast on state radio that Iran was prepared to produce fuel for its Tehran reactor if world powers insisted on the deal.

"The International Atomic Energy Agency is legally obliged to provide fuel...If you want to play games with us then I can assure you that we will produce it by ourselves," Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University. "The Iranian nation is wise and will not be deceived by the nuclear deal."

Iran says talks are needed on the nuclear deal and that Tehran wants to import atomic fuel rather than send its own uranium abroad for processing.

The West accuses Iran of covertly trying to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful, aimed at generating electricity to meet its booming domestic demand.

"Why should we send our low enriched uranium abroad? ... Who can guarantee that you will then provide us with the needed fuel?" said Khatami.

The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China have tried for years to persuade Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities in return for economic and political incentives.

No Retreat

Tehran has so far refused to halt its enrichment.

Khatami said Iran had no intention of yielding to the West's pressure over its nuclear program.

"No one has traded over the Iranian nation's legitimate nuclear right...," said the cleric in the sermon broadcast live on state radio.

The West's priority is to reduce Iran's LEU stockpile to prevent any danger that the Islamic republic might turn it into the highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb.

"The Guardian" newspaper in its November 6 edition said the IAEA has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting the Islamic republic's scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design.

U.S. President Barack Obama urged Tehran on November 4 to make a concession over its nuclear program, adding that he was ready to deal directly with Iran, something his predecessor largely rejected.

Khatami ruled out talks with Iran's arch enemy, the United States, that broke ties with the Islamic state shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"As long as the American leaders have an arrogant mentality, the great Iranian nation will not engage in the evil talks with them," said Khatami, echoing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's remarks, who said on November 3 that Iran would not be deceived into reconciliation with Washington.