Iran Foreign Min Says Talks Only Way To End Nuclear Spat

MINSK, Belarus (AP)--Iran's foreign minister said Thursday negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict over his country's nuclear program, but hinted at disagreements over the agenda for expected talks and issued Tehran's latest criticism of the U.S.

Speaking after a meeting with his counterpart in Belarus, Manouchehr Mottaki alluded to a meeting that European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said would be held Saturday with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.

"At the request of Solana, negotiations will be held, but debates will continue about the method of holding talks and the agenda," Mottaki said through an interpreter. He added: "We welcome negotiations as the only method of reaching agreements."

The Solana-Larijani talks, which initially had been expected Wednesday, are considered a final attempt to see if there is common ground to start negotiations between Iran and the six nations that offered Tehran incentives to halt its uranium enrichment activities.

With the U.S. seeking to impose sanctions on Iran after it refused to halt enrichment by an Aug. 31 deadline, Mottaki said "the Americans must understand that the language of threats does not work in the modern world."

"The nuclear nation that used nuclear weapons in Nagasaki and Hiroshima does not have the right to demand that others not possess nuclear technology," he said, adding that the U.S. and chief ally U.K. "are against all legal rights of Iran on this question."

Iran insists it has a right to enrich uranium for generation of nuclear power. But suspicions are growing that it wants to develop the technology to enrich uranium to the weapons-grade level for the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

According to a confidential document obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, key European nations are warning that Iran is trying to weaken the international consensus against its nuclear program by stalling in its response to terms for negotiations.

The document, made available to the AP before a key meeting of the five U.N. Security Council nations plus Germany to coordinate a joint strategy over Iran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, said Tehran is clearly seeking to split the international community.

As expected, Mottaki won support from Belarus.

"Every state has the full right to peaceful nuclear activity. We have no reason to doubt the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," said the hard-line former Soviet republic's foreign minister, Sergei Martynov. "Sanction instruments will bring a negative result."