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Iran Says Nuclear Rights Non-Negotiable

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (gesturing) tours a nuclear-fuel-making plant during its inauguration ceremony in the central province of Isfahan in April 2009.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said the country's nuclear rights were not negotiable, the student news agency ISNA reported.

"The Iranian nation's nuclear rights are not negotiable and our nuclear cooperation will be done within the U.N. nuclear watchdog's framework.... Nuclear cooperation with Iran is beneficial to the West," ISNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on November 15 that time was running out for diplomacy in a dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which the West fears is a cover to build bombs. Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.

A draft deal brokered by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), calls on Iran to send some 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France to be turned into fuel for a Tehran medical research reactor.

Tehran says it prefers to buy reactor fuel from foreign suppliers rather than part with its LEU, that can be used for bombs if enriched further.

Addressing Iran's misgivings over sending LEU abroad before it gets reactor fuel in return, the IAEA has been trying to find possible compromises to rescue the deal, including Iran parking its LEU in a third country, pending delivery of reactor fuel.

Turkey says it would be willing to store Iran's enriched uranium. Ahmadinejad said Turkey could play a "positive and constructive" role. "Iran is ready to shake a hand that is honest and not disguised," Ahmadinejad said, ISNA reported.

Tehran has yet to give a full, official reply on the proposal drafted in September after talks with Iran, France, Russia and the United States. The United States has rejected Iranian calls for amendments and further talks on the deal.

Iranian authorities say the Islamic State is awaiting Western proof of sincerity.

"We should consider our national interests. In case of any agreement, we will first get the fuel and then will dispatch our 3.5 percent enriched uranium abroad," Parviz Davudi, a top adviser to the president, told the official IRNA news agency.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on November 15 after meeting Obama in Singapore that Moscow was not completely happy about the pace of dialogue between Iran and the international community over Tehran's nuclear program.