Iran Nuclear NewsIran Hints Talks on Ending Its Nuclear Program Are...

Iran Hints Talks on Ending Its Nuclear Program Are Near Collapse

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New York Times: A day before major negotiations were to resume in London over Iran’s nuclear program, the foreign minister increased the pressure for a quick deal, warning that his country would resume uranium enrichment if there was no progress Friday in the discussions. New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI

TEHRAN – A day before major negotiations were to resume in London over Iran’s nuclear program, the foreign minister increased the pressure for a quick deal, warning that his country would resume uranium enrichment if there was no progress Friday in the discussions.

“If talks with European Union are not successful tomorrow, negotiations will collapse and we will have no choice but to restart the uranium enrichment program,” Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said, after a meeting with his Dutch counterpart in The Hague.

He said Iran was not willing to accept what he called “delay tactics” by the Europeans, and he reiterated Iran’s position that his country had a right to nuclear technology.

Iran has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which allows nations to produce nuclear fuel for energy production but not for weapons, which require a much higher level of enrichment. Iran has said its nuclear intentions are peaceful, but it has admitted that it hid major elements of its nuclear program. As a result, the United States and Europe want it to renounce all uranium enrichment, in order to guarantee that it is not secretly preparing to make weapons-grade fuel.

Britain, Germany and France have been negotiating with Iran since 2003 to reach a deal, and last November Iran agreed to freeze its enrichment program but not to end it permanently.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Hamidreza Assefi, said last week that Iran planned to resume enrichment activities, regardless of what came out of the talks, within a matter of months.

Iran recently offered to give the European countries “objective guarantees” that its program was for peaceful purposes, but it did not release details. Muhammad Atrianfar, an adviser to the former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is now chairman of the Expediency Council, said the offer was to suspend its overall enrichment program if Iran could keep a small experimental program running.

Hossein Moussavian, an Iranian negotiator, said Tehran was “very pessimistic” about the talks because the Europeans “have not taken any step to bring the talks to a close,” Agence France-Presse reported. A two-day round of negotiations took place last week in Europe.

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