TEHRAN (Reuters) -Iran rebuked the European Union on Tuesday for calling on it to freeze all nuclear fuel work, insisting it had a clear right to develop a full civilian nuclear energy program.
"The EU”s statement was surprising. We suggest the Europeans change their behavior toward Iran," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told state television.
The European Union urged Iran on Monday to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency”s (IAEA) September resolution, which called on Tehran to re-freeze uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant.
Iran broke U.N. seals at the Isfahan plant in August and began converting tonnes of uranium ore into a gas that can be enriched to make nuclear reactor or bomb-grade fuel.
Iran says it will never make atomic bombs and only wants to use nuclear technology for electricity generation.
"Iran will never abandon its nuclear fuel cycle," Asefi said after a closed-door meeting of Iran”s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the ambassadors from the European Union and the IAEA board of governors” countries to Iran.
Iran”s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani wrote a letter to the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France this week, in which he called for fresh talks with the EU trio.
The EU has said it is studying Iran”s offer of new talks.
Nuclear negotiations between the two sides broke down in August and the EU three have said they will not return to the negotiating table until Iran halts work at Isfahan.
But, in an interview with the BBC aired on Tuesday, Larijani said Tehran would not be intimidated into backing down.
"Our strategy is that we have to achieve nuclear technology and the resumption of activities at the nuclear conversion plant at Isfahan is a sign that Iran is determined to master nuclear technology. Through a language of force and threats you cannot persuade Iran to give up this right," he said.
Larijani, who is secretary of Iran”s Supreme National Security Council, said Tehran wanted to bring up the resumption of the most sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle — uranium enrichment — in its talks with the EU.
"We are waiting to see if the negotiations start so that we can deal with these issues as well. One of the main points of any future negotiations is this issue," he said.
Iran”s offer of fresh talks with the EU comes just ahead of a meeting of the board of governors of the IAEA where Washington may once again push for Iran”s case to be escalated to the U.N. Security Council.
Ali Aghamohammadi, an advisor to Larijani, said Iran was prepared for any worse case scenario.
"We are ready to withstand any possible U.N. sanctions," the Tosea newspaper quoted Aghamohammadi as saying.
British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said on Monday that the EU had not "so far" discussed economic or diplomatic sanctions on Iran if it did not comply with the IAEA resolution.