Both before and after Wednesday’s nuclear talks in Baghdad, Iran’s state-run press remained focused on the message that the Islamic Republic was in a strong negotiating position.
While most reports focused on the progress of the talks and the position Iran was taking, the official news agency IRNA also reemphasized the Islamic Republic’s official stance on its nuclear weapons program, citing a speech in which Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi reiterated Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s fatwa against nuclear weapons.
On Wednesday evening, some time after the talks ended, IRNA reported that Iran had presented a “comprehensive package” of proposals to the P5+1 group (the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany).
According to IRNA, the five-pivot package included proposals on nuclear and non-nuclear issues and set out a “step by step approach” to ending the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program as well as “practical steps” that the West should take.
IRNA said Iran’s package was comprehensive and balanced, unlike the proposals offered by the P5+1 countries, and was based on previous talks in Istanbul and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
IRNA said that the P5+1 powers had also presented oral proposals, and criticized them as “unbalanced” because they did not offer Iran anything in return. However, the news agency did not elaborate as to what those proposals contained.
According to IRNA, Iran’s nuclear negotiator and Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili is to meet separately with UN foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the Chinese representative, Zhao Shu, before a second round of talks on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Iran’s state-owned Press TV cited Ashton’s spokesman Michael Mann as saying the P5+1 had proposed a new package to Iran that would address the international community’s concerns about the country’s nuclear program.
In a lengthy story published earlier on Wednesday afternoon, IRNA cited Iranian Salehi as saying the Islamic Republic’s delegation was “optimistic” about the outcome of the negotiations.
Salehi spoke during a joint press conference with Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s minister of foreign affairs, trade and integration, who was in Tehran for a day of talks, IRNA said.
The Iranian foreign minister also pointed to the recent visit of IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to Tehran, which he said had a good outcome.
“We have repeatedly stated that we will engage in the negotiations with serious determination and goodwill, just as we showed goodwill in Istanbul,” Salehi said, adding that a “policy of political pressure and persuasion is ineffective.”
IRNA said Salehi had slammed the US Congress for seeking to pass new sanctions legislation ahead of the talks, a step he said was “not constructive.”
“The American Congress is not giving a good message, which shows they are not yet ready to show goodwill,” he added, saying that Iran had contended for 33 years with “the serious challenge of global arrogance.”
“Some [powers] have mistakenly thought that if they pressure Iran, Iran will give up,” he said, according to IRNA.
Referring to Khamenei’s fatwa against nuclear weapons, Salehi said the “production, stockpiling and deployment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, is contrary to the principles of Islam.”
That fatwa was “based on fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] and not on political purposes,” Salehi said.
In a separate story, IRNA said Iran had the “upper hand” in the talks, because of Khamenei’s fatwa, which it claimed helped the Islamic Republic’s negotiators gain traction.
Meanwhile, late on Wednesday afternoon, the Iranian judiciary website Dadiran reported that judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani said the Islamic Republic would “never make a deal” over nuclear enrichment.
Speaking to a meeting of high-ranking judicial officials on Wednesday, Larijani addressed the issue of enrichment, and said that “Islamic Iran’s leaders would never retreat from their country’s natural rights,” Dadiran said.
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency, which is linked to the Revolutionary Guards, reported late on Wednesday that Ali Baqeri, the deputy leader of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, met with China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu and separately with Ashton’s deputy Helga Schmid after Wednesday’s talks.
Hours before the Baghdad talks on Wednesday, Iran’s Tabnak news site, which is closely associated with Mohsen Rezaee, secretary-general of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council, accused the UK of having “belligerent intentions” against Iran.
Citing the BBC, whose Persian-language news site is blocked in Iran, Tabnak said senior British ministers had held a meeting regarding potential scenarios for if the Baghdad talks fail, including what Britain’s role could be in the event of military conflict between Israel and Iran.