TEHRAN – Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said that Iranian nuclear negotiators will not allow the country’s nuclear rights to be violated.
“Of course, we trust the country’s negotiating team and we are sure that they will not allow the rights of the country and the people and the Iranian nation’s dignity to be encroached on,” the Leader said during a meeting with a large number of officials in Tehran on Monday evening.
The remarks by the Leader came as nuclear negotiations between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are underway in Vienna.
The talks, which started last Wednesday, are meant to build on a landmark interim nuclear deal Iran and the major powers clinched last November in Geneva to achieve a comprehensive deal to resolve the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program, which has dragged on for over a decade.
The main stumbling block to reaching a comprehensive nuclear agreement by the July 20 deadline set under the Geneva deal is the issue of the number of centrifuges, although there are some other sticking points, including the types of centrifuges Iran uses, the mechanism for lifting the sanctions, and the duration of the implementation of the final deal.
Ayatollah Khamenei said that the important issue of the country’s uranium enrichment capacity is one of the sticking points in the talks.
“On the issue of enrichment capacity, their aim is to convince the Islamic Republic of Iran to accept 10,000 SWUs (separative work units) although at first they started (bargaining) with 500 SWUs and 1,000 SWUs,” he said.
“(A capacity of) of 10,000 SWUs is the output of 10,000 centrifuges of the old type that we already have,” he said, adding that relevant Iranian officials have announced that the country’s definite need is 190,000 SWUs.
Iran now has about 19,000 installed centrifuges, of which about 10,000 machines are currently in operation.
The Leader described as “unfair” and “illogical” the United States’ opposition to Iran’s “indigenous” nuclear technology, which is being expressed under the pretext that Iran may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and said that Iran adheres to international mechanisms that ensure that the countries’ nuclear programs are peaceful.
“There are clear ways as well as responsible bodies (the UN nuclear watchdog) which guarantee no access to nuclear weapons and the Islamic Republic of Iran sees no problem in this regard,” he said.
“But the United States has no right to express concern about the possibility of countries gaining access to nuclear weapons, because the United States has used nuclear weapons and now possesses thousands of nuclear bombs,” he added.
He also said that Iran’s right to a nuclear research and development program must be observed in the nuclear talks.
In addition, the Leader rejected the Western powers’ demand for the closure of the underground Fordo uranium enrichment facility and said, “With regard to the Fordo facility, they say that the facility must be shut down because it is not accessible and cannot be damaged. This statement is ridiculous.”
Ayatollah Khamenei also said, “The nuclear issue is only a pretext and if it did not exist, other fake pretexts such as human rights, women’s rights, and other issues would be raised.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, he said that the enemy is plotting to cause Iranian officials make miscalculations because its two main tools, namely making military threats and imposing sanctions, have proved inefficient.
The sanctions can be neutralized through implementing the resistance economy plan and the threat of taking military action against the county will remain merely a verbal threat due to the fact that the option is not feasible, he said.
The government’s economic planning must be based on the assumption that the sanctions will not be eased, he added.
He also said, “I express my approval and support for the government. And I will make every effort to support the government. And I trust high-ranking government officials.”