|Iran says no agreement yet on Arak and Fordo nuclear sites||
TEHRAN – A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator has said that Iran and the major powers have not reached any agreement on the Arak heavy-water reactor and the Fordo uranium enrichment facility in their talks on Tehran’s nuclear program.
“No agreement has been reached on any issues that are being discussed, including Arak and Fordo, and differences have not been resolved yet,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Thursday in response to U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman who said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday that progress had been made in discussions between Iran and the major powers about the two nuclear sites.
According to the New York Times, at the hearing, the lead U.S. negotiator made the case that the four-month-long extension in negotiations agreed to by the U.S. administration, along with modest additional sanctions relief, were warranted “because we have seen significant progress in the negotiating room.”
Specifically, she said the progress had been made in discussions about redesigning a plutonium reactor so that it would not produce weapons-grade fuel and converting Iran’s deep-underground uranium enrichment site, called Fordo, to another purpose.
Araqchi also said, “The only criterion for the Islamic Republic is the country’s needs. And in the talks, decisions will be made only based on the country’s needs.”
Iran has announced that it definitely needs a uranium enrichment capacity of 190,000 SWUs (separative work units) in order to fuel its existing nuclear reactors.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) failed to meet a self-imposed July 20 deadline to strike a comprehensive deal to resolve the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program. After about three weeks of talks in Vienna, Iran and the major powers announced on July 19 they had agreed to extend the negotiations on a final deal for four months until November 24.
Negotiating partners must recognize Iran’s rights
Araqchi also said on Friday that “the first priority” for Iranian negotiators is to safeguard the Iranian people’s nuclear rights.
“The other side must be ready to recognize these rights. In that case, it will be very easy to reach an agreement,” he said.
“The other side has tested all other options and is aware of the fact that no option but negotiation is effective, so they are serious about reaching an agreement,” he added.
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