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Iran: No need for US security guarantee
Iran's top negotiator said Tuesday that his country does not need the United States to guarantee its security for it to proceed with its nuclear program.
Ali Larijani was responding to a suggestion by Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Washington offer security assurances as part of negotiations aimed at making Tehran permanently freeze nuclear enrichment.
That process can produce material for use in warheads or fuel for nuclear plants to generate electricity.
"Iran doesn't need such aristocratic guarantees," state-run radio quoted Larijani as saying. He added that Iran had "the national might to protect itself."
U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Washington would give no such guarantees to Iran.
The U.S. has offered written guarantees that North Korea will not be attacked, in hopes of halting Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.
In February, US President Bush said it was "simply ridiculous" to assume the United States had plans to attack Iran. However, he also said that all options were open.
On Sunday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also said the United States could take part in international bidding to build an Iranian nuclear power plant, a move designed to ease American suspicions that Tehran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to build atomic weapons.
But Larijani said Tuesday that Iran did not "need America's participation" in its nuclear projects.
Ereli had rejected the Iranian offer as a "pipe dream."
ElBaradei had also called on Washington to become more involved in the stalled negotiations between Iran and the European Union.
Iran has vowed not to give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.
Tehran temporarily froze its enrichment program in November 2004 as a voluntary measure to build trust in negotiations with Europe.
But it restarted uranium conversion, a stage prior to enrichment, in August after Europe urged Iran to permanently freeze its enrichment program. That led to the collapse of the talks, which are scheduled to resume Dec. 21 in Vienna, Austria.