Iran's head of the Expediency Council and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani greets worshipers during Tehran's Friday prayers July 25, 2008. Rafsanjani rejected a deadline for Tehran to respond to an offer of incentives by six major countries aimed to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Iran's head of the Expediency Council and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday rejected a deadline for Tehran to respond to an offer of incentives by six major countries aimed to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment.
"When we are in talks, what can deadline mean then?" Rafsanjani was quoted by official IRNA news agency as saying in his Friday prayers sermon at Tehran University.
"We should sit and raise our calls in a logical atmosphere free from any hue and cry," he said.
Rafsanjani warned that "the world bullying powers" are now trying to deprive the Iranian nation of the absolute right through making mischiefs and issuing threats and intimidation.
The United States and its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. Iran has denied the U.S. charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
"Acquiring peaceful nuclear technology is first of all an absolute and undeniable right that has been accorded to Iran and all countries based on the international treaties endorsed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," he said.
On June 14, European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Javier Solana handed the offer of incentives to the Iranian authorities on behalf of France, Britain, Russia, China, the United States, as well as Germany, in a bid to coax Tehran to halt its disputable enrichment activities.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and Solana held talks on July 19 on Iran's nuclear program in the Swiss city of Geneva, in the presence of U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns and senior diplomats from China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
Western diplomats said after the meeting that Iran has given no clear answer to the package of incentives for suspending its nuclear program, but the Islamic Republic was asked to response within two weeks.
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Singapore on Thursday that Russia is against setting a timeframe for Iran to reply to the package of incentives, according to Russian news agency.
(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2008)