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Iran 'Would Not Talk Nuclear Work' With Powers

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iranian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- A senior Iranian official has suggested that any talks with Western powers would not address Tehran's disputed nuclear program, in comments carried by state-run television.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Tehran's envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog agency, made the statement after Iran on September 9 handed over a package of proposals to six world powers, Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam satellite television reported on its website.

Soltanieh made similar comments last week, before the proposals were submitted to the powers involved in diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear work, which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.

Al-Alam quoted him as saying Iran had prepared the package to try to end differences over its nuclear program, while also appearing to rule out any negotiations on the issue.

"Tehran is prepared to have fair and substantive talks about various problems, including the guarantee of access by all countries to nuclear energy and preventing the proliferation of nuclear arms," Soltanieh said.

"But these talks do not include Tehran's nuclear program and legal activities in this connection," he was quoted as saying.

Iran's Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said on September 9 that Tehran's proposals addressed "various global issues" and represent a "new opportunity for talks and cooperation," without giving details about the content.

Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, says its nuclear program is aimed at producing electricity and has repeatedly rejected demands to halt enrichment, which can have both civilian and military purposes.