|Tehran will keep its nuclear program intact: Zarif||
TEHRAN – Iran is willing to address international concerns about its nuclear activities but will keep its nuclear program “intact”, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
His remarks signaled that Tehran will not agree to dismantle any of its nuclear facilities in talks with six world powers on a final settlement of the decade-old dispute over its nuclear activity.
Those negotiations got under way in Vienna last week, with both sides saying they made a “good start” but conceding that their plan to achieve a long-term deal in the coming months was very ambitious.
Iran and the major powers have agreed to hammer out a final deal by the end of July.
Zarif, speaking to reporters during a visit to New Delhi, said he hoped a deal would be reached by the July deadline, although talks could be extended by another half year if both sides agreed.
“I am hoping by the first deadline we will reach a final deal and to start implementing it,” he said. “And I can assure you that Iran has that political will and good faith that is required in order to achieve that.”
However, he also said there was a “problem in terms of both substance and approach”, apparently referring to the other side in the talks.
Iran and the powers - the United States, Russia, France, Germany, China and Britain - aim to build on an interim accord reached in November under which Tehran scaled down its nuclear work in exchange for some sanctions easing.
Diplomats and analysts acknowledge that it probably will be even more difficult to reach a final agreement as the Western powers would likely press for a significant scaling back of Iran’s nuclear program, including of the number of centrifuges that it uses to refine uranium.
Iran says it is enriching uranium to low levels for a planned network of nuclear power plants.
U.S. officials have made clear Iran’s planned Arak heavy water reactor must be dealt with under any settlement and Washington has also questioned Iran’s need to have a uranium enrichment site buried deep underground at Fordow.
Zarif said Iran was “prepared to make sure that the program is exclusively peaceful and create the necessary understanding for the West. I believe there are multiple ways of doing that and we are willing to entertain those ways.”
But, he added, “I can tell you that Iran’s nuclear program will remain intact. We will not close any program.”
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader