March 11, 2014
Iran: Nuclear programme to stay intact
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.
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.