Tehran Hardens Nuclear Stance (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL) By FARNAZ FASSIHI 06/14/12)
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Iran´s chief nuclear negotiator said Iran wouldn´t compromise on its
right to enrich uranium, casting doubts on whether the country could
reach a deal during talks with international powers in Moscow this
Saeed Jalili, the negotiator, updated lawmakers in Iran´s parliament
on Wednesday over the status of the country´s nuclear talks, in a
speech that was aired live on radio and published by official media.
Mr. Jalili´s narrative of several rounds of nuclear talks dating to
last year suggested a hardening of Iran´s position. The diplomat, who
represents the views of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
dismissed a suspension of uranium enrichment, a central demand of the
The diplomat said Iran had recently threatened to pull out of the
talks if they only focus on the nuclear issue and don´t address
Iran´s other concerns such as human rights in Bahrain and piracy in
the Persian Gulf.
He said Tehran only changed its mind after Catherine Ashton, the
European Union´s Foreign Secretary, called him Monday to reassure him
Iran´s concerns were on the table.
Mr. Jalili also suggested the West was conducting a colonial war
against Iran to keep it from scientific advancement. "The Islamic
Republic´s nuclear program and nuclear energy is based on our
legitimate rights and it´s a symbol of our resistance and progress,"
he told parliament.
He added that the West´s opposition to Iran´s nuclear program stemmed
from "fear that the Islamic Republic could serve as a role model for
progress and defiance in other countries."
Iran is scheduled to resume talks with the five permanent United
Nations Security Council members and Germany in Moscow on Monday and
Tuesday. The meetings will mark the third round of negotiations this
year after two others in Istanbul in April and Baghdad in May.
Amid high expectations, those talks were ultimately regarded as
unproductive and both Iran and the international community only
agreed to keep negotiating.
The talks come ahead of plans by the EU to impose a full embargo on
Iranian oil exports on July 1 and amid suggestions by Israel that it
could conduct a military strike against Iran´s nuclear program if
Japan, looking to secure a steady energy supply, is pressing the EU
to loosen its pending sanctions, which would prohibit European firms
from insuring Japan´s imports of Iranian oil after July 1, said
people familiar with the effort.
The EU´s views on the state of talks with Iran appear to be divided.
Some EU diplomats say the coming talks risked collapse, while others
said talks would likely continue for some time.
"It´s not about a breakthrough or no breakthrough, it´s about the
level of serious engagement which will lead eventually to a
breakthrough," said a senior diplomat. "We are very much determined
to pursue this process as long as there is momentum to pursue it and
as long as there is commitment [from Iran] to pursue the nuclear
issue in substance."
Russian´s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov traveled to Tehran on
Wednesday to discuss the coming talks, as well as other regional
issues such as Syria, meeting with his counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi.
Mr. Lavrov didn´t give details of his meetings but said the "Iranian
side is interested in coming up with solutions" to settle the
Russia and China are seen as the most sympathetic countries toward
Iran among the Security Council members.
The six-nation negotiating group says it is concerned that Iran is
developing nuclear weapons and has demanded that Iran suspend its
current practice of enriching uranium to 20% purity. Nuclear weapons
require an approximate 90% enrichment level, but nuclear experts say
the most extensive technical work is required in the earlier stages—
moving to 20% purity from 3.5% levels.
Iran insists that the intention of its nuclear program is for
obtaining peaceful energy and medical advancements. Iran had
indicated that it might consider reducing enriched uranium to below
5% if the international community would ease the economic sanctions
that are crippling its economy.
But Western countries say they won´t lift sanctions now and worry
that Iran might be stalling talks to buy time for its nuclear program.
—Laurence Norman in Brussels and David Crawford in Berlin contributed
to this article. (Copyright © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) 06/14/12)
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