Iran's chief negotiator Jalili 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili warned Thursday that applying pressure on the Islamic Republic in upcoming nuclear talks would not impede Iran's nuclear progress, but rather it would serve to encourage Tehran to localize nuclear technology.
Representatives from Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers held talks on Iran's controversial nuclear program in Istanbul on April 14 and were scheduled to meet again on May 23 in Baghdad.
On Thursday, Press TV quoted Jalili as saying that the Baghdad talks must seek "cooperation" based on respect for the rights of the Iranian nation. He rejected the notion that time was running out for dialogue.
“Today, what is running out is the time for applying pressure and this approach has failed to bear results,” Jalili stated.
Western diplomats said Wednesday
that Iran is installing more centrifuges in an underground plant but does not yet appear to be using them to expand higher-grade uranium enrichment that could take it closer to producing atom bomb material.
They say Iran's production of uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, which it started two years ago, seems to have remained steady in recent months after a major escalation of the work in late 2011 and early this year.
Getting Iran to stop the higher-level enrichment is expected to be a priority for world powers when they meet with Iran in Baghdad next week.
Nuclear bombs require uranium enriched to 90 percent, but much of the effort required to get there is already achieved once it reaches 20 percent concentration, shortening the time needed for any nuclear weapons "break-out."
Tehran denies Western accusations of a nuclear weapons agenda and says it has a sovereign right to peaceful nuclear technology, repeatedly rejecting UN resolutions calling for a suspension of all uranium enrichment.
But it has at times appeared more flexible when it comes to the refinement to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, which it says it needs to fuel a medical research reactor in Tehran.
Experts say that initially getting Iran to stop this work could open a way to ease the deadlock.Reuters contributed to this report.