By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran won't permit its diplomats to negotiate with European nations over its nuclear program if the goal of talks is to deprive Iran of the right to enrich uranium, Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Monday.
Hasan Rowhani said, however, that Iran was prepared to negotiate suspension of some of its nuclear activities.
The European countries notified the United States on Friday that they intend to offer Iran a package of economic incentives next week in hopes of persuading the country to permanently give up uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons.
``From a tactical point of view, discussion on how long to continue suspension (of some nuclear activities) is negotiable,'' Rowhani told state-run television.
``But if the discussion is about depriving us of our legitimate right (to manage the cycle of nuclear fuel), it's not negotiable. Our negotiating team is not authorized to discuss this either with Europeans or others,'' Rowhani said.
``We don't compromise on our national rights,'' he added.
Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors unanimously passed a resolution demanding Iran freeze all work on uranium enrichment, including uranium reprocessing and the building of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
The IAEA will meet Nov. 25 to judge Iran's compliance. An unsatisfactory judgment could lead to U.N. Security Council action.
Iran has said the agency has no authority to ban it from enriching uranium, a right granted under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But the country is under intense international pressure to suspend such activities as a good-faith gesture.
``We have some red lines. We have some principles. And we won't give up our principles,'' Rowhani told the television.
``It's unacceptable for us that we are told Europeans and Americans have the right to manage the cycle of nuclear fuel and possess nuclear power plants but Iran doesn't. No one can tell us this. This is illogical and contrary to international regulations and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,'' Rowhani said.
The key European powers agreed with the U.S. administration Friday that the package would be Iran's final chance to avert a showdown at the IAEA, a U.S. official said.
Diplomats close to the talks said the European package of incentives included fuel for Iran's civilian programs and a trade arrangement with the European Union.
Defying the IAEA call, Iran said earlier this month that it has converted a few tons of raw uranium into hexafluoride gas, a stage prior to actual uranium enrichment.
Uranium hexafluoride gas is the material that, in the next stage, is fed into centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Uranium enriched to a low level is used to produce nuclear fuel to generate electricity, and enriched further can be used to manufacture atomic bombs.