Iran on Thursday again rejected a deadline set by major world powers on a uranium enrichment deal by the end of the year, dpa reported.
"Our position is very clear and while definitely rejecting any deadline, we believe that the other side (world powers) should reply and actually the ball is now in their court," Foreign Minister
Manouchehr Mottaki said in an interview with Iran's Channel Two network.
White House spokesman
Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that Washington has been in talks with the four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - Britain, China, France and Russia - plus Germany on the future measures if Iran did not accept a uranium enrichment deal by the end of this year.
According to a plan brokered in October by the
International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA), Iran's low enriched uranium - 3.5 per cent - was to be exported to Russia and France for further enrichment, of up to 20 per cent, and eventually used as fuel for the Tehran medical reactor.
"They (world powers) say we did not reply to the plan but we did quite clearly," Mottaki said.
Iran's chief diplomat reiterated that Tehran would be ready to either buy the processed uranium, make it by itself or exchange it in several phases on Iranian soil.
"All we want is having the guarantee that the deal is made properly - seeking trust is not a one-way road imposed by the other side, but should be mutual," Mottaki said.
He said Iran preferred to make the swap on its southern Persian Gulf island Kish but did not rule out Turkey as a possible venue for the exchange.
"The deal is still on and can still be implemented. Fuel for the Tehran medical reactor (mainly for cancer cure) is a human issue and should not become an instrument for political aims and pressure," Mottaki said.
Asked by the interviewer what Iran would do if the world powers realized their sanction threats, Mottaki said, "Iran's national interests are not related to decisions made by other countries."
"Fact is that our logic is much stronger and that will not bow to pressure. If they (world powers) rejected the Iranian proposal on the exchange deal, then our local experts themselves would make the 20- per-cent enrichment processing," Mottaki said.
"We will never give in as far (as) our legitimate nuclear rights are concerned but negotiations are still on our agenda to remove any ambiguities," he added.
Iran insists it has the right to pursue peaceful nuclear development as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and IAEA member, and rejects Western charges that it has been working on a secret nuclear programme to make an atomic bomb.
However, its lack of transparency regarding its nuclear programme and refusal to suspend uranium enrichment have led to several United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions against the Islamic state.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that constant baseless allegations that Iran was seeking to make atomic bombs "make us ... just puke."