Iran to U.S: No deal without right to enrich uranium


European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (2nd R) speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) during a photo opportunity before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva November 20, 2013. (Reuters)

Iran will not sign up to a nuclear deal with world powers unless they accept its right to enrich uranium, its chief negotiator told reporters on Thursday.

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Abbas Araghchi, speaking a day after talks with world powers resumed in Geneva, said Iran would not suspend its uranium enrichment activities, adding it was a “red line” for the Islamic state to do so.

“We have lost our trust … we cannot enter serious talks until the trust is restored. But that doesn’t mean that we will stop negotiations,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

On his official Twitter account, Aragchi, who is also Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said there will be “no deal that does not include the right to uranium enrichment from start to finish will be accepted.”

Abragchi also told the state television that “the main obstacle is the lack of trust because of what happened at the last round,” Agence France-Presse quoted Araghchi as saying in reference to talks in early November when major powers toughened the terms of a draft accord.

“As long as trust is not restored, we cannot continue constructive negotiations,” he said.

“There are major differences. There is a chance of a deal by tomorrow (Friday) but it’s a difficult task,” he added, calling for his counterparts to be “flexible” and to show goodwill.

France, which has long warned that it will not tolerate nuclear proliferation, said on Thursday that the West needed to be firm in its dealings with Iran over the country’s nuclear program.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he was hopeful an accord could be struck this week.

“I hope so,” Reuters quoted Fabius as telling France 2 television when asked if there could be a deal.

“But this agreement can only be based on firmness.”

Meanwhile, the White House said Vice President Joe Biden has stressed to a dozen Democratic senators that the goal of the talks is to keep Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

The Obama administration has been urging some lawmakers not to pass new round of sanctions against Iran, arguing that the existing blockade has forced Tehran to come to the table seeking relief.

The administration said new sanctions could jeopardize the delicate talks that resumed Wednesday in Geneva.
(With AFP and Reuters)

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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