Iran says nuclear programme to stay "intact"

NEW DELHI Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:00pm IST

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif smiles during a lecture themed ''Iran's Foreign Policy - Towards Stability in West Asia'' organised by the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif smiles during a lecture themed ''Iran's Foreign Policy - Towards Stability in West Asia'' organised by the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi February 27, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Iran is willing to address international concerns about its atomic activities but will keep its nuclear programme "intact", not close it down, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday.

His remarks signalled that Tehran will not agree to dismantle any of its atomic facilities in talks with six world powers on a final settlement of the decade-old dispute over its nuclear activity.

Those negotiations got under way in Vienna last week, with both sides saying they made a "good start" but conceding that their plan to achieve a long-term deal in the coming months was very ambitious.

By late July, Western governments hope to hammer out an accord that would lay to rest their suspicions that Iran is seeking the capability to make a nuclear bomb, an aim it denies, while Tehran wants a lifting of economic sanctions.

Zarif, speaking to reporters during a visit to New Delhi, said he hoped a deal would be reached by the July deadline, although talks could be extended by another half year if both sides agreed.

"I am hoping by the first deadline we will reach a final deal and to start implementing it," he said. "And I can assure you that Iran has that political will and good faith that is required in order to achieve that."

However, he also said there was a "problem in terms of both substance and approach", apparently referring to the other side in the talks.

Iran and the powers - the United States, Russia, France, Germany, China and Britain - aim to build on an interim accord reached in November under which Tehran curbed its most sensitive nuclear work, higher-grade uranium enrichment, in exchange for some sanctions easing.

Diplomats and analysts acknowledge that it probably will be even more difficult to reach a final agreement as the Western powers would likely press for a significant scaling back of Iran's nuclear programme, including of the number of centrifuges that it uses to refine uranium.

Iran says it is enriching uranium to low levels for a planned network of nuclear power plants. But uranium can also be used to assemble bombs if refined further to a high fissile concentration, which the West fears may be Iran's ultimate aim.

U.S. officials have made clear Iran's planned Arak heavy water reactor - which could yield bombb-grade plutonium once operational - must be dealt with under any settlement and Washington has also questioned Iran's need to have a uranium enrichment site buried deep underground at Fordow.

Zarif said Iran was "prepared to make sure that the programme is exclusively peaceful and create the necessary understanding for the West. I believe there are multiple ways of doing that and we are willing to entertain those ways."

But, he added: "I can tell you that Iran's nuclear programme will remain intact. We will not close any programme."

(Reporting by Nidhi Verma and Ratnajyoti Dutta; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

India-China Ties

Reuters Showcase

New U.S. Ambassador

New U.S. Ambassador

Obama to nominate Indian-American Richard Verma as India ambassador - congressional source.  Full Article 

Scottish Referendum

Scottish Referendum

Scots vote on independence, United Kingdom's fate on knife-edge.  Full Article 

Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power

Developing world revives nuclear power prospects, but yet to commit.  Full Article 

India's Mars Mission

India's Mars Mission

Mars mission enters last lap; crucial test on Sept. 24.  Full Article 

Separatists' Demand

Separatists' Demand

Scotland’s referendum stirs Kashmiri demands for vote on future.  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Fear and hope as Sierra Leone braces for three-day Ebola lockdown.  Full Article 

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba set to price IPO shares amid investor frenzy.  Full Article 

Life of Sophia Loren

Life of Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren, Italy's national icon, turns 80 with book of memoirs.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage