Iran says next round of nuclear talks 'difficult'

Islamic republic deputy foreign minister says any agreement must respect 'rights of Iranian nation.' Discussions restart in Geneva on Wednesday; US, European officials voice optimism

Senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi said the next round of talks between Tehran and world powers over the country's nuclear program will be "difficult," media reported Sunday. Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries – Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany – restart in Geneva on Wednesday after the last session failed to seal a deal.


"The next round of nuclear talks will be difficult," Araqchi, who is also deputy foreign minister, said in comments quoted by the official IRNA news agency. "No agreement will be reached without securing the rights of the Iranian nation" on its nuclear program and uranium enrichment, he added.


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Israel and the West suspect Iran is trying to enrich uranium to develop atomic weapons, an allegation the Islamic republic denies. The suspicions have seen Tehran slapped with punishing international sanctions over its nuclear activities.


Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also reiterated Tehran's insistence on its right to enrich uranium. "All parties should respect Iran's right to enrichment and refrain from ignoring its right," ISNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying. "Uranium enrichment is an integral part of Iran's rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty," he said.


The last round of talks, which saw the foreign ministers of the P5+1 group rush to Geneva in the hope of clinching a deal with Iran, ended inconclusively. US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Iran for scuttling those talks. But Iran, backed by Russia, denied the claim and said French objections to the draft thrashed out by Tehran and Washington had prevented an agreement.


French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had cast doubts on a deal, citing concerns about the heavy water reactor Iran is building at Arak and its stockpiles of 20 percent enriched uranium. Fabius's stance drew criticism by some Iranian officials.


"I am hopeful those issues raised in Geneva, will not be repeated again, so we can move forward," Fars quoted another member of the negotiating team, Mohammad Takht Ravanchi, as saying. "Those excessive demands would hinder the process of work," said Ravanchi.


In recent days, US, Russian and European officials have said a deal on Iran's nuclear program is within reach.



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פרסום ראשון: 11.17.13, 16:50
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