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Iran rejects Russian nuclear offer

From Journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr

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Iran's nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran's chief nuclear negotiator has rejected a Russian offer to produce nuclear fuel in its plants for Iran, the latest effort to resolve a diplomatic impasse over Tehran's nuclear program.

Speaking on state-run television Sunday, Ali Larijani argued the offer would deny his nation's right to "be in charge of its own fate" on energy matters.

He said Iran would be willing to have some, but not all, of its nuclear fuel produced outside the country.

Iran's hard-line conservative government insists it has the right to restart nuclear facilities and enrich uranium for the production of nuclear energy, despite fears by some other nations --including the United States -- that Tehran's true goal is to produce nuclear weapons.

Larijani said it is "logical that every country be in charge of its own fate regarding energy and not put its future in the hands of another country, even if that country is a friendly country."

Moscow had offered to enrich uranium in Russia for nuclear fuel and have it sent to Iran. The offer was backed by the United States and by Britain, France, and Germany, which have tried to negotiate a solution to the Iranian issue.

Iran and Russia have substantial economic ties, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has openly disagreed with U.S. President George W. Bush about Tehran's intentions with its nuclear facilities.

Larijani said Tehran is willing to discuss having some nuclear fuel created outside the country. But he said his nation must operate some of its own reactors to produce nuclear fuel "at our own disposal, without having to rely on another country."

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