TEHRAN, June 28 (AFP): Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday he saw "no use" in negotiating with the United States over its nuclear programme and signalled again that Tehran was unwilling to freeze sensitive uranium enrichment work.
Although Khamenei said Iran was ready to ease international concerns over its disputed atomic drive, he said "negotiations with the United States are of no use for us. We have no need for such negotiations."
"We will not negotiate with anyone over the undeniable right of nuclear technology and using it," he added, indicating Tehran will refuse to bow to international demands to suspend uranium enrichment.
The US administration said it did not view the comments as Iran's final word on the issue and would wait for a formal response to an offer from Washington and other world powers.
"If they recognise this right, we are ready to negotiate over supervision controls," Khamenei said of Iran's nuclear programme, which the regime insists is merely aimed at generating electricity.
In Washington, the White House played down Khamenei's comments and said Iran's position remained unclear.
Asked whether Iranian leaders were signalling that they would ignore a US call for a formal response to the proposal in "weeks, not months," Snow replied: "Well, no they're not."
Snow said the United States would only recognise a formal answer given by Iran's senior nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, to European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said a reply to the proposal will be given in late August. In contrast, the major powers are calling for a reply before the end of June in time for a summit of the G8 group of industrialised nations in Russia.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Tuesday also urged Iran to expedite its response to the offer of incentives.
Annan conveyed his view "that Iran should speed up its response to the proposals" in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at UN headquarters in New York, a UN statement said.
But President Vladimir Putin said, in a thinly veiled reference to US-led pressure on Iran, that Russia will not join any ultimatums over the problem of nuclear proliferation.
"We do not intend to join any sort of ultimatum, which only pushes the situation into a dead end, striking a blow against the authority of the UN Security Council," Putin told Russian diplomats in Moscow in the presence of journalists.