Khamenei: Iran will never give up its nuclear programme
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has backed talks with world powers but warned Tehran will never give up its nuclear programme.
He said Iran had agreed to the talks to “break the hostile atmosphere” with the international community.
But he urged his negotiators in Vienna not to yield to “coercive words”. Iran and the six world powers involved in the talks are working to secure a comprehensive deal to replace an interim agreement that expires in July. The US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany want to see Iran scale back its enrichment of uranium, which they fear could be used to make a nuclear bomb.
Tehran says its nuclear work is purely peaceful and hopes to agree a deal in return for a permanent lifting of sanctions.
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a joint statement on Wednesday that their third round of talks since November had included “substantive and detailed discussions covering all the issues which will need to be part of a Comprehensive Agreement”.
They will meet again in May for a fourth round of talks to “bridge the gaps in all the key areas and work on the concrete elements of a possible” agreement, the statement said.
Ayatollah Khamenei told a gathering of nuclear scientists that Tehran agreed to the talks to show the international community that it was not seeking nuclear weapons.
“These talks need to continue but all must know that despite continuation of the talks, activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of nuclear research and development won’t be halted at all.” Telling negotiators not to “accept any coercive words from the other party,” he said: “None of the country’s nuclear achievements can be stopped, and no-one has the right to bargain over it.”
Under the interim agreement, which was agreed in January, Iran froze certain nuclear activities for six months in exchange for a partial lifting of sanctions. BBC