Iran: No speculations on nuclear talks please, we have a plan

Iran's deputy foreign minister says Tehran completely getting rid of its nuclear stockpiles is not an option.

October 13, 2013 09:04
3 minute read.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani at Council on Foreign Relations and Asia Society event, Sept 26 2013

Rouhani at Asia Society forum 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Keith Bedford)


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Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to his official twitter account on Friday to announce that his government planned to present a proposal to members of the P5+1 nuclear talks in Geneva this week, and asked his followers not to speculate.

At talks with world powers on Iran's nuclear program scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Geneva, Iran was reportedly prepared to present a three-step proposal aimed at garnering Western recognition of Tehran's "right to enrich" uranium.

The first stage of the Iranian package reportedly calls on the P5+1 members - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the US - to commit to acknowledging "Iran's right to enrich the soil," Iranian semi-official ISNA news agency reported Saturday.

However, Iranian officials allegedly believe that without an agreement on the first phase of the proposal, continued nuclear negotiations will be "difficult and perhaps impossible," according to ISNA.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Sunday that completely getting rid of its stockpile of enriched uranium will not be an option during upcoming P5+1 talks in Geneva, rejecting a key demand of world powers due to resume nuclear negotiations.

"We will negotiate about the volume, levels and the methods of enrichment but shipping out the (enriched) material is a red line for Iran," Araqchi  said.

Meanwhile, Senior Iranian lawmaker Mohammad-Hassan Asafari says Western governments should begin lifting sanctions before upcoming nuclear talks in Geneva in order to show their good faith in relations with the Islamic Republic, Iran's IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

For example, the official said, they could lift the ban on imports of Iranian oil by China, India and Japan before talks begin to show their good faith.

A concrete timetable must be made in order for nuclear talks to yield results, he added.

He also told IRNA that uranium enrichment is Iran's inalienable right, and is a matter that should not be discussed during this week's talks in Geneva.

A Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday said Iran was reportedly prepared to offer to halt enriching uranium to levels of 20% purity during talks, as well as offer to open the country's nuclear facilities to more intrusive international inspections.

The Islamic Republic was also considering offering to close the underground uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, according to the report.

In return for meeting the key demand of the P5+1 group, Tehran was reportedly set to ask the US and EU to start easing economic sanctions, the the Wall Street Journal reported.

The US delegation to the upcoming talks about Iran's nuclear program includes one of the US government's leading sanctions experts, a hint that Washington may be giving greater thought to how it might ease sanctions on Tehran.

Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, effectively the State Department's third-ranking diplomat, will lead the US delegation to negotiations between Iran and six major powers in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday, the State Department said.

The central issue at the talks, which will involve Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States and Iran, will be to explore what, if any, steps Iran might take to curb its nuclear program and what, if any, sanctions relief the major powers may offer in return.

Western powers are concerned that Iran is seeking to develop atomic bombs. Iran denies that, saying its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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