Khamenei: Iran will never give up its nu­clear pro­gramme

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

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

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