'Iran has nuclear fuel reserve to last four years'

Iranian nuclear chief says six-month freeze won't hinder the country's nuclear program; "Iran is the winner of the Geneva deal," Salehi adds.

December 20, 2013 10:50
2 minute read.
Ali Akbar Salehi.

Iran's Ali Akbar Salehi 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)


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Iran has a reserve of nuclear fuel that would last four years, the head of the country's Atom Energy Organization said, as technical talks continued in Vienna Friday on the implementation of a deal meant to freeze the Islamic Republic's nuclear program for six months.

Ali Akbar Salehi stressed on Thursday that Tehran will not be losing anything in the November 24 interim deal, meant to allow a window to negotiate a permanent agreement in the nuclear dispute between Iran and world powers.

"Iran is the winner of Geneva deal because even if the western powers do not keep their promises Iran has proven its good-will for the world public opinion," he said, according to IRNA.

“If the Western side breaches the agreement, the world public opinion will see who it was that sought excuses to break the agreement,” he added, according to PressTV.

In return for suspending its uranium enrichment, Iran will receive some sanctions relief, and world powers have agreed not to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

But a new sanctions bill against Iran introduced on Thursday by a bipartisan group of US senators threatened to endanger the deal.

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill, that would trigger new sanctions against the Islamic Republic should the six-month period pass without the two sides reaching a comprehensive agreement.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the Senate action "defies logic."

"We strongly oppose the action taken by these members of Congress," Harf said. "It appears in this case, with the introduction of this legislation, that they’ve chosen to ignore the assessment of our negotiators and also our intelligence community, which has said that additional sanctions would make this harder."

The action amounts to an "unnecessary risk threatening negotiations," she added. "Congress can pass new sanctions in 24 hours if they wanted to."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the Obama administration would support new sanctions should Iran fail to comply with the tenets of the Geneva deal, or should six months pass without a comprehensive agreement. But only at that time should sanctions be considered, and at that point, promptly passed and implemented.

"It is very important to refrain from taking an action that would potentially disrupt the opportunity here for a diplomatic solution," Carney said. "We don't want to see actions that would proactively undermine American diplomacy."

While the deal limits uranium enrichment at Iran's nuclear facilities, it does not include a ban on building of the country's heavy-water reactor in Arak, where construction will continue, Salehi promised.

Iran has also told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) it was producing a new generation of centrifuges, he added.

Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

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