Iran rejects Rice's threats


Sun Feb 6, 2005 01:52 PM GMT

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran says it is impervious to remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after she accused Tehran's "unelected mullahs" of a dismal human rights record and of overing up efforts to build a nuclear bomb.

In remarks on Thursday, Rice made clear Washington was unwilling to become involved in European negotiations, which resume on Tuesday, to broker a deal that would offer economic incentives to Iran if it agreed to drop nuclear fuel production.

"Such threats will not have much effect on the Islamic Republic and we will continue our path of sovereignty, independence and saying no to hegemony," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a news conference.

Iran denies Washington's charges that it is seeking nuclear warheads and argues it wants nuclear fuel only to run nuclear power stations such as the one it is building at the southern port of Bushehr.

Asefi also said a robust stance from Rice would not sway talks with Britain, France and Germany.

"Negotiations have not reached a deadlock and still continue," he said.

But he added: "We think the Europeans must be more serious and show more dynamism."

In remarks recorded on Friday in London but broadcast on Sunday by the BBC, Rice broadened her attack against the Islamic Republic from atomic bombs and human rights to Iran's support for Palestinian militia.

"One of the most important barriers to getting to that (Middle East) peace is the activity of Palestinian rejectionist groups and of groups like Hizbollah. Iran is the key supporter of these rejectionist groups," she said.

Iran insists it only offers moral support to Palestinians.

Rice declined to comment on whether Washington would give Israel the green light to bomb nuclear targets in Iran but said it was up to Tehran to avert such an attack.

"Anything that would lead to conflict in this region would be a terrible, terrible thing. And the Iranians need to live up to their international obligations so we don't face any such point," she told the "Breakfast with Frost" programme.