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Iran Answers: Enrichment Halt 'Completely Unacceptable'

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said that Iran has rejected UN calls for enrichment suspension, saying that enrichment suspension “has no place in Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.” Any hopes that Iran may agree to terms through the EU’s Javier Solana are effectively dashed, as Hosseini declared “The suspension is completely unacceptable and we have rejected it.”

Less than two weeks ago, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran would negotiate but would not compromise on enrichment, bringing into question the usefulness of Javier Solana’s efforts in talks with Iranian nuclear chief Ali Larijani. The response offered by the Iranian Foreign Ministry through Hosseini is consistent with Iranian claims over the past several years that nuclear enrichment is their right and is effectively non-negotiable.

But while Iran is unwilling to negotiate halting uranium enrichment, the government released through the state-controlled Fars News Agency that if only the threat of sanctions would be removed over a nuclear program that will not abate, Iran is willing to negotiate aviation spare parts agreements with three US companies: General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Boeing. Iranian state-run radio also claimed last week that the International Civil Aviation Organization in Canada promised to resolve US sanctions that have forbid American companies from supplying Iran with equipment, expertise or parts.

Unilateral American sanctions, however, remain firmly in place. In fact, President Bush signed the Iran Sanctions Bill one week ago in order to “codify U.S. sanctions on Iran.” While President Bush also said that one of the reasons for the bill was to provide “flexibility to tailor those sanctions in appropriate circumstances,” it is believed unlikely that part of that flexibility would be to curtail sanctions on Iran’s aviation sector which have been in place for many years.

While Hosseini also referred to the threat of sanctions as a ‘rusty and derelict weapon’, Iran is clearly asserting much energy in ending those that already exist.