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Iran warns Western leaders that nuclear program can’t be stopped

Supreme Leader says negotiations should go on — but should not slow down any of Iran’s activities in nuclear research

Celebrating a holiday marking when Iran first enriched uranium, the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader urged negotiators Wednesday not to give in to "coercive words" in talks underway with world powers over the country's nuclear program.

"Our negotiators should not accept any coercive words from the other party," Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iranian nuclear scientists at a commemoration of the country's National Day of Nuclear Technology. "None of the country's nuclear achievements can be stopped, and no one has the right to bargain over it.”

Khamenei spoke as negotiators from Iran and the so-called P5+1 world powers — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — met for the second of two days of talks in Vienna aimed at clearing the way for a long-term accord on curbing Tehran's nuclear program. Khamenei supported the talks, run under the government of moderate President Hassan Rouhani. Hard-liners, however, have strongly opposed them.

Click for more on nuclear talks

A first-step deal, in effect since January, has curbed some Iranian nuclear activities in return for limited sanctions relief as the two sides work toward a final agreement. Negotiators face an informal July deadline to come up with a permanent deal.

In meetings separate from the powers' talks, Iran is cooperating with inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who are seeking answers about detonators — which could be used to help set off an atomic explosive device — as part of a wider investigation into Tehran's activities, the agency's chief said Wednesday.

Iran agreed late last year to grant the U.N. inspectors greater access to nuclear-related sites and to provide more information about its atomic program, which Iran says is for purely peaceful purposes, such as power generation and medical research.

Under the framework deal, Iran also agreed to start addressing suspicions that it may have worked on designing an atomic weapon. Such cooperation would be a potential breakthrough in a long-stalled investigation into suspected bomb research.

Asked about implementation of the deal, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said: "We are working on it, and they are cooperative."

Amano also said Iran was putting last year's interim nuclear deal with the six world powers into effect. "I can tell you, these measures [in the deal with the P5+1] are being implemented as planned," Amano said.

UN envoy ‘not acceptable’

Also Wednesday, Iran said the U.S.'s rejection of Tehran's pick to be Iran's new ambassador to the United Nations is "not acceptable," casting a shadow over the nuclear talks that gained traction in recent weeks. 

Iranian state television quoted a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman as saying that new U.N. envoy Hamid Abutalebi is one of the country's best diplomats. Abutalebi previously served at Iranian diplomatic missions in Australia, Belgium and Italy.

U.S. officials objected to the selection of Abutalebi because of his alleged participation in a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage in the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the U.S. told Iran the choice was "not viable." The U.S. Senate approved a bill Monday barring Abutalebi from entering the United States.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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