Diplomatic Setback Would Benefit No Party

Diplomatic Setback  Would Benefit No Party Diplomatic Setback  Would Benefit No Party

The director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran expressed optimism that Iran and its international negotiating partners could reach an agreement over Tehran's nuclear program during the seven-month extension period, warning that any other options "would be of benefit to no parties."

Salehi said in an interview with the Arabic-language news channel Al-Alam on Sunday that over the past year, "Tehran has demonstrated its sensible and reasonable stance" and proved to the world that it wants to end the standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

"We have demonstrated flexibility (in the nuclear talks) to the extent possible" and today the world is aware of "our actions and true intentions," he said, adding, "Even if these talks fail to reach a successful outcome, we can prove to the world that we have exhausted all available options, but the other party was not willing to reach a settlement."

"As President (Hassan Rouhani) underlined, Tehran is seeking to strike a win-win agreement; this means that we are not seeking to obtain all concessions," he added. "From the very beginning, we entered the negotiations with the aim of striking a deal. The parties have managed to narrow gaps on technical and legal issues. And now only political aspects need to be addressed, and if the other party shows sufficient resolve, there is a high chance of signing a deal."  

Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are set to hold their first round of talks on December 17 after they failed to meet a second self-imposed deadline last month to reach a long-term settlement to the long-running dispute over Tehran’s nuclear work.  The parties decided to extend their talks on a comprehensive deal for seven more months until the end of next June. The two sides had reached a preliminary nuclear agreement in Geneva in November 2013, under which Iran agreed to temporarily scale down parts of its nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

  Goodwill Gesture  

Salehi went on to say that Iran is developing advanced IR4, IR6 and IR8 uranium enrichment machines, but has decided not to feed the centrifuges with uranium gas "voluntarily" and "as a goodwill gesture" for the duration of talks. The advanced centrifuges are among new models that Iran has been seeking to develop to replace the IR-1 centrifuge that it now uses to produce refined uranium.

He noted, "We have 20,000 centrifuges installed, of which 9,000 are not operational as long as the talks are underway."

"That is a kind of unwritten agreement with the other party which we are bound to fulfill ... in order to prove our good faith and our true intention to resolve the (nuclear) issue."   

Elsewhere, Salehi touched on the agreements Iran and Russia signed in November on the construction of two new nuclear power plant units in Bushehr and cooperation on the production of nuclear fuel and said, "An agreement was signed with the Russians on the joint production of nuclear fuel components inside Iran."

Iran already runs one Russian-built reactor in the Bushehr power plant which generates 1,000 megawatts of electricity. The plant, whose construction was delayed for years, was officially launched in September 2011. He said Iran plans to construct more nuclear power plant units in Bushehr following the completion of the two new units in the southern port city, "which will take approximately ten years."

He also said the projects are part of the government's plan to generate 20,000 megawatts of nuclear power as approved by parliament.