Iran reaffirms nuclear right, insists peaceful aim

BRUSSELS Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:15am EST

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Iran reaffirmed its right on Wednesday to pursue a nuclear program, with top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili pledging Tehran would work with inspectors to clear up doubts voiced by international critics.

"Why shouldn't we have the right to uranium enrichment?," Jalili told the European Parliament in Brussels, a day after world powers agreed the outlines of a new sanctions resolution against Iran.

"Everyone acknowledges those activities are peaceful," he said of a U.S. intelligence report last month that concluded that Iran appeared to have halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. "In our defence doctrine, nuclear has no place."

Despite the new U.S. intelligence, broad suspicions remain in the West over Iran's nuclear intent. A new U.N. resolution on sanctions is likely to set out travel bans and asset freezes on Iranian officials, a senior U.S. official said after a meeting of the major U.N. powers in Berlin on Tuesday.

Jalili did not comment directly on the likelihood of further sanctions, telling reporters in Brussels only that Tehran viewed the whole referral to the U.N. Security Council as illegal.

He said he planned to meet EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana -- the official designated by major powers to explore the scope for opening negotiations with Iran -- later on Wednesday during his stay in Brussels.

Jalili said Iran would cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency in such a way that its director general Mohamed El-Baradei would be in a position to report on outstanding concerns of the international community in March.

"Iran has gone beyond its obligations," Jalili said, referring to international rules governing states' use of nuclear technology.

(Reporting by Mark John and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Richard Balmforth)