Iranian Students Protest as New Chief Talks Tough
The Government in Iran today says it will move ahead with nuclear fuel work.
Iranian hardline student protesters raise posters and the Quran at a protest Uranium Conversion Facility in Isfahan today. (Reuters)
Larijani signaled in his first interview since being named Monday as Supreme National Security Council head that Iran would not roll back its August 8 resumption of uranium conversion but that he wanted to continue talks with the European Union.
“Iran does not accept the resolution” which the International Atomic Energy Organisation (IAEA) passed last week urging Tehran to suspend all such activities, he told the Shargh newspaper.
The Europeans “must understand that the Iranian government is determined to preserve the nuclear fuel production cycle”, said Larijani, who took over from pragmatist Hassan Rowhani.
“We insist on Natanz,” the site of Iran’s uranium enrichment factory, “but this must go through the channel of negotiations,” he said.
He acknowledged it was “theoretically possible” that the Islamic republic could be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over its controversial nuclear activities.
New President Mahmood Ahmadinejad nominated the former director of the state broadcast media, Ali Larijani, as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran’s top policy-making body.
Larijani, one of eight candidates in the first round of Iran’s presidential election in June, is a trusted aide of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
He is on the record as a staunch critic of troubled talks with the European Union on providing reassurances that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively civil.
“Iran deems it a principle to continue talks and it accepts negotiation as the right manner,” Ali Larijani, the new general secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying on Tuesday by Sharq daily.
Earlier, Western diplomats have expressed concern that Larijani, a close aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will adopt a tougher line on the nuclear issue than his predecessor Hassan Rohani.