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Report: Iran won't give up option to enrich uranium

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Iran
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Mohammad Khatami
European Union

(CNN) -- Iran will not agree to refrain from enriching uranium, outgoing President Mohammad Khatami said Wednesday, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

IRNA reported that Khatami, speaking at a news conference, said Iran is not currently restarting enrichment of uranium and will continue discussions with the EU-3 -- Britain, France and Germany.

The three countries representing the European Union see those discussions as aimed at halting Iran's nuclear program.

Still, Khatami said at the news conference that access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes was an "inalienable right," IRNA reported.

Washington has accused Iran of concealing a nuclear weapons program, while Iranian officials have maintained nuclear power is being developed for peaceful purposes.

"Iran will reject the Europeans' proposal if the freeze of enrichment is included," the news agency quoted Khatami as saying in his last news conference before President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes office.

In May, Iran's Guardian Council approved a parliamentary measure requiring the government to develop nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment. Such backing was necessary for the proposal to become law.

The EU-3 began talks with Tehran two years ago amid fears about Iran's program of uranium enrichment, which can lead to material suitable for use in nuclear weapons. The talks will resume August 1.

Last year Iran -- the world's fourth-largest oil producer -- agreed to halt its enrichment activities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency -- the United Nations' nuclear watchdog -- has criticized Tehran for not providing enough information about its program.

But it has found no hard evidence that Iran's program is not for its stated peaceful purpose of power generation.

The United States refuses to participate in the negotiations, but has not objected to the European talks.

Reporter Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.

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