On the occasion of Iran's National Nuclear Day, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday indicated Tehran is prepared to hold nuclear talks.
Iran's President declares a breakthrough in the country's nuclear program, and announces openness to talks
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Tehran is ready to join nuclear talks with the West, including the United States. But he insisted that Iran's nuclear rights be respected.
Speaking in Isfahan on Thursday, Ahmadinejad said Iran was a peace-loving country but that it would not make any concessions on its nuclear rights as it followed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations.
The Iranian President welcomed US President Barack Obama's call for a world free of nuclear weapons. “We are even ready to pay our share in this regard," Ahmadinejad added. During his visit to Prague last week Obama urged an immediate end to nuclear testing and outlined his vision of a world without nuclear weapons. And, breaking with past U.S. policy of shunning direct talks with Tehran, the Obama administration said it would join in nuclear discussions with Iran from now on.
But Washington has reacted cautiously to the Iranian president's willingness to hold talks.
"The international community has some very serious concerns about the nuclear program," US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said. Wood added that Iran was entitled to a civilian nuclear program, but that such a program also entailed responsibilities.
"We again call on Iran to comply with its obligations."
On Wednesday, the United States said it would join other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany in talks with Iran about its nuclear activities.
Tehran maintains its nuclear program is only for civilian and peaceful purposes, but the West fears Iran is secretly building nuclear bombs, and has urged the country to suspend its controversial uranium enrichment activities, which can have both civilian and military uses. The UN Security Council has already imposed three resolutions against Iran for refusing to do so.
Ahmadinejad inaugurates the country's first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant
Ahmadinejad made his remarks on Thursday at a ceremony marking Iran's Nuclear Day: the inauguration of the nation's first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant in the central province of Isfahan.
Iran says it has mastered the nuclear fuel cycle
It also says it has tested new, more advanced machines for enriching uranium. The Isfahan plant is expected to produce uranium pellets, fuel rods and fuel to power the Arak heavy water reactor.
Ahmadinejad also inspected the Natanz uranium enrichment plant near Isfahan, where the number of operating centrifuges have reportedly been increased to 7,000.