MOSCOW: Iranian foreign minister says Tehran’s peaceful nuclear programme has not stopped in the face of unilateral sanctions and will never be halted.
“We believe that sanctions can never yield results because sanctions are an illegal strategy to exert pressure and implement bullying policies, which contradict the international law,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a joint press conference with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian capital, Moscow, on Friday.
The Iranian foreign minister added that Iran’s negotiations with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States - plus Germany are aimed at resolving any ambiguity about the Iranian nuclear energy program.
In July, Tehran and the six states agreed to extend negotiations until November 24 after they failed to reach common ground on a number of key issues. Zarif further described the “illegal” sanctions against Tehran as “fruitless” and added, “We had 200 centrifuges before sanctions but we currently have 20,000 centrifuges.”
The illegal US-engineered sanctions on Iran have been imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Tehran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy programme.
Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Zarif also said sanctions may exert pressure on people, but the people of Iran and Russia would never give up on their rights under such pressure. The European Union has imposed sanctions against Russia as well as pro-Russia figures after Ukraine’s then autonomous region of Crimea voted in a referendum to re-join the Russian Federation in March.
Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi said Iran and the six world powers (the US, Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany) will be able to strike a comprehensive deal in their upcoming talks if only the sextet show good will. “If the opposite side continues nuclear negotiations with seriousness and goodwill and does not make excessive demands, it is possible to reach an agreement by November 24,” Araqchi told reporters on Thursday night.
The talks between Tehran and the six world powers are part of efforts to seal a final deal on Iran’s nuclear energy program. On July 20, the deadline for reaching a final agreement on Iran’s future nuclear activities was postponed by four months — until November 24 — to give more time for diplomatic efforts.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton in a joint statement after over two weeks of talks stressed the need for more efforts and time to reach an agreement with the world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The two officials who presided the negotiating sides, emphasized at the end of Iran-Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) negotiations that they have held different sessions in different forms and in a constructive atmosphere to reach a final comprehensive agreement.
Due to certain differences over some fundamental issues the two sides agreed to extend the Joint Plan of Action by November 24, they added. The EU said on Monday that Zarif and Ashton will hold talks in Brussels next Monday on Iran’s nuclear program. “I can confirm that Ashton will be meeting the Iranian foreign minister on Sept. 1 here in Brussels on Iran’s nuclear program,” Ashton’s Spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.
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