Iran’s Top Negotiator Says Geneva Talks Reach Point of Disagreement

GENEVA : Iranian foreign minister Friday said negotiations between Iran and the world powers have entered a phase in which conflicting opinions have been raised, and added that further coordination between delegations and their capitals are needed in this phase.

Javad Zarif said that the Islamic Republic will not negotiate its right to uranium enrichment.

Zarif, who was speaking to Press TV in Geneva on Friday, said any deal with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany should include Iran’s right to enrichment. 

“Our right to enrichment is our red line. The enrichment program that Iran has, will continue…. Any agreement should include enrichment program for Iran. We will not accept anything else other than that,” said the Iranian minister following a meeting with EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

Ashton represents the six world powers engaged in talks with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear energy program. 

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany kicked off their latest round of talks on Wednesday. 

The two sides are working to hammer out an interim deal to pave the ground for the resolution of the West’s decade-old standoff with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program. 

The recognition of Iran’s entitlement to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes remains one of the major sticking points in the talks. 

Zarif said Tehran wants to “make sure that our right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, including enrichment, is respected,” adding, “That’s a right that we have. That’s a right that is considered as an inalienable right.”

Zarif also pointed to the possibility of an agreement between Iran and the world powers in the coming hours, saying, “We believe that it is possible, in the course of even hours, to reach an agreement. And I think we can make progress. I’m not pessimistic about it,” he said. 

The Iranian foreign minister said that any agreement must be based on “mutual respect and equal footing,” adding, “In any negotiations, no party should try to dictate his views on the other side. We have never accepted it in the past and we will never accept it in the future.”

Zarif said Iran wants “international respect” for its right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. 

“We need to be serious. We need to conduct negotiations in good faith. We need to have the political will on all sides to resolve the issue based on respect for the rights of everybody,” the Iranian minister stated. 

Zarif also said that Iranian negotiators and their opposite parties have to iron out certain “conceptual differences as well as wording differences.” 

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