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Last Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Iran nuclear plan 'irreversible'
Iranian technicians
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful means
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said Tehran's decision to pursue nuclear power is irreversible.

Speaking in Geneva, Mr Mottaki, however, said Iran was still ready to negotiate to find a compromise.

His comments came a day after the five permanent members of the UN Security Council gave Iran 30 days to suspend uranium enrichment or face isolation.

Tehran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful and has rejected the council's demand.

"We have been trying to build international confidence in our peaceful nuclear programme," Mr Mottaki told the BBC.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The UN should bring in some neutrals and commit to dialogue, not diplomacy!
EC Dumas, Bushey UK

"However, we will not yield to pressure and intimidation and will not renounce by any means our country's legitimate right as recognised by international law," the minister said.

Mr Mottaki argued that Iran had the right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium, so the UN Security Council's demand looked likely to go unanswered, the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says.

Mr Mottaki even suggested a regional consortium under which Iran and some of its neighbours could pursue nuclear power together under international supervision.

But it is an idea that has been floated before and is unlikely to gain international acceptance, our correspondent says.

'Strong signal'

On Thursday, foreign ministers from the five permanent members of the council - Russia, the US, France, Britain and China - and also Germany said Iran had 30 days to return to the negotiating table or face isolation.

The Council noted with serious concern... a number of outstanding issues which could have a military nuclear dimension

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the meeting in Berlin sent "a very strong signal to Iran that the international community is united".

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the council might pass a legally-binding resolution if Iran did not comply, leaving a possibility of sanctions.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country remained opposed to such a move against Iran.

The "sole solution" would come through the IAEA, he said.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said later Iran was not an imminent threat and sanctions against the Islamic Republic would be a "bad idea".

On Wednesday, the 15-member UN Security Council finally approved a non-binding call on Iran to end uranium enrichment, after weeks of wrangling.


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