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Supreme Leader says Iran will not be bullied in nuclear talks

File - A handout picture released by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on March 21, 2014 shows him addressing thousands of Iranian in the northeast holy city of Mashhad as they celebrate Noruz, the Persian New Year. (AFP PHOTO/HO/IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER'S WEBSITE)

DUBAI: Supreme leader Ayatollah AliKhamenei said on Wednesday he had authorised nuclear talks withworld powers including arch-foe the United States just to proveIran's peaceful intentions, but Tehran would not be bullied andwould not stop atomic research.

He added in remarks to nuclear scientists that Iran shouldcontinue the discussions to end a dispute over nuclear work theWest fears is aimed at developing a bomb, but Iran's negotiatorsshould not cede any gains made by its nuclear programme.

"Americans are well aware we are not after nuclear weapons,but they still raise the charges every now and then to keep upthe anti-Iran hype," Khamenei told a group of nuclear scientistsand officials who gathered to mark Iran's "Nuclear TechnologyDay," an important event in Iranian calendar.

"That's why I agreed to the government's initiative tonegotiate, just to break the hype and expose the truth to worldopinion," he said, referring to moderate President HassanRouhani's diplomatic overture to the West after his landslideelection last June.

Khamenei, who wields near absolute power in Iran, warnedhowever that there was a limit to how far the Islamic Republicwould go to satisfy its adversaries on the nuclear issue.

"No, Our pursuit of nuclear science will never halt. We willnot cede any of our gains in nuclear research and developmentand our negotiators must not allow the other side to bullyIran," he said, as quoted by the official IRNA news agency.

"The decision to negotiate doesn't mean we will backtrack onthe issue."

However, the Iranian clerical leader reaffirmed support fordiplomacy as a means to settle the long-running nuclear disputewhich has cost Iran economically ruinous sanctions.

Khamenei spoke as Iranian negotiators and major powers - theUnited States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - metfor the second of two days of talks in Vienna to try to clearthe way for a long-term accord on Tehran's nuclear work,although diplomats said "significant gaps remained to bebridged.

Iran denies accusations its nuclear programme is intended toobtain nuclear weapons capability. It wants an end to sanctionsand to regain what it sees as its rightful place as a leadingregional power.

 

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