Iran refuses to go beyond nuclear obligations

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 7:22pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 7:25pm

Iran said on Saturday it will not go beyond its obligations or accept anything outside its rights under the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), ahead of talks with major powers on its disputed nuclear drive.

“We will not accept anything beyond our obligations and will not accept anything less than our rights,” said the Islamic republic’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, quoted by ISNA news agency.

“Iran has fulfilled its NPT obligations as an active and committed member, therefore [it] should gain all of its rights,” Jalili said in an address to Iranian nuclear industry officials.

His remarks come ahead of a meeting between Iran and six world powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - in Kazakhstan on Tuesday.

The talks will be the first between the parties since three rounds of meetings in Moscow ended in stalemate last June.

The so-called P5+1 has called on Iran to scale back on uranium enrichment, the process that is used for power plant fuel and in higher purities needed for a nuclear weapon.

But they stopped short of offering Tehran substantial relief from UN Security Council and unilateral Western sanctions which have since last year caused major economic problems for the Gulf country.

Iran denies seeking atomic weapons but many in the international community suspect otherwise.

“The Iranian nation will defend its rights including its nuclear rights ... Iranian people do not accept to be treated as an exception in the world,” said Jalili, who is also secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.

“They have announced that they have imposed crippling pressures on the Iranian nation to give up its rights ... but despite the sanctions they have only witnessed Iranian people ... defending their rights,” Jalili added.

“If the 5+1 wants to enter constructive talks, then they should enter it with a new strategy and proposals. We hope the 5+1 ... enter on a path that can win the Iranian people’s trust,” he said.

France on Thursday confirmed that world powers will make a “substantial” new offer to Iran at the talks next week in Kazakhstan.

“We will make a new offer that will contain significant new elements. We want a true exchange, leading to concrete results,” said the French foreign ministry’s deputy spokesman, Vincent Floreani, without elabourating.

According to media reports, the world powers could offer to ease sanctions on Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals.

On Thursday, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland urged Iran to consider “another path” than the nuclear bomb.

“They have an opportunity to come to those talks ready to be serious, ready to allay the international community’s concerns, and we hope they take that opportunity,” she said.

Talks between Iran and the UN atomic watchdog agency have been stalled for around a decade, with Tehran refusing to answer a number of demands from the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying they go beyond its obligations.