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News | Jalili: Iran Bringing 'New Ideas' to Nuclear Negotiations

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI

12 Apr 2012 23:55Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

JaliliGestureMehr.jpg11:55 p.m. IRDT, 24 Farvardin/April 12 In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary-general of the Supreme National Security Council, said that Iran's delegation will go to the talks with the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), plus Germany -- with new ideas. He expressed hope that "the other side" will do likewise. The negotiations take place on Saturday in Istanbul.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi declared that Iran will attend the Istanbul talks with "good intentions," and expressed hope that the P5+1 is prepared to demonstrate some "flexibility." "We have always been ready for negotiations, and are also ready to address some of the [Western powers'] concerns," Salehi said, expressing his hope that the negotiations would lead to mutual understanding between the two sides. He also rejected any preconditions by the P5+1, and demanded that the group negotiate honestly.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast similarly expressed his hope that the upcoming Istanbul negotiations would be held "in a positive and constructive atmosphere, and represent a step forward, and Iran's inalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology will be recognized."

At the same time, judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani asserted, "There is no guarantee more credible than what the Supreme Leader said about Iran not wanting to manufacture nuclear weapons," a reference to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's Iranian New Year speech on March 20. Larijani added, "According to the Supreme Leader's fatwa, producing and using nuclear weapons is considered a haram [sin].... If the Western powers are not looking for an excuse [to sanction Iran], they should recognize that when the Supreme Leader says that we are not pursuing nuclear weapons, this is the most concrete guarantee, because the person who makes such a declaration is someone who is emulated by many Muslims around the world, and the Iranian political system is led by him."

Speaking to reporters after meeting with former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Majles Speaker Ali Larijani (brother of Sadegh Larijani) said that Iran has a positive view of the upcoming nuclear negotiations, assuming that the other side also intends to take positive steps and is not just seeking the "political smiles" with which any parlay begins.

Two hundred and four Majles deputies issued a declaration expressing their "firm support" for Iran's nuclear negotiation delegation. According to the statement, "despite the illegal actions against the great Iranian nation, ranging from [the UNSC] issuing resolutions to sanctions...it is an undeniable fact that Iran possesses advanced peaceful nuclear technology.... Our message to the representatives of P5+1 is -- by accepting this undeniable fact, authorized the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and changing the policy of confrontation -- to put an end to the current [antagonistic] process and place the negotiations on a practical path."

By contrast, Kazem Jalali, spokesman for the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, seemed to take a hard line when he said that Iran will not retreat from its positions in the upcoming Istanbul talks. "Under the present conditions, Iran will not accept any preconditions, and will not compromise over...its nuclear assets," said Jalali. He went on to state his hope that the "P5+1 learns the lesson from the past negotiations and its [own] shortcomings and make up for them, so that the new round of negotiations can represent a new beginning for serious negotiations." Commission member Mehdi Sanaei similarly expressed the hope that the P5+1 would set aside political maneuvering and attend the Istanbul sessions ready to negotiate seriously.

The lead headline of hardline newspaper Kayhan on Thursday read "The Pillars of Iran's Power in the Negotiations with P5+1." The accompanying story argued that Iran is now in a much stronger position than it was during the last round of talks in Istanbul 15 months ago, because it can now enrich uranium to 20 percent (more precisely, 19.75 percent). In an editorial, Mohammad Imani wrote, "Iran now has 80 kg of 20 percent- and over 4 tons of 3.5 percent-enriched uranium. The West has lost hope with the UNSC, as its last resolution against Iran was issued 22 months ago, and the developments in the region, including the end of the occupation of Iraq, the great revolutionary victory in Egypt, and the defeat of the 'great project' of the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia in Syria have all weakened the U.S. position." Imani also recommended that Iran's delegation should take with them to Istanbul the families of the Iranian scientists who have been assassinated over the past two years.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announced that the Bushehr light-water nuclear reactor will be fully online by October. Abbasi Davani said that Iran is moving toward indigenous construction of nuclear reactors and a large number of people are being trained for reactor work. He declared that Iran is among six to eight countries that have mastered the complete nuclear fuel production cycle, including the manufacture of centrifuges.

In an interview, Abbasi Davani said that the AEOI does not conduct any activity within the Parchin complex, a military facility that has been the source of much speculation in the West. Iran has produced conventional ammunition for its armed forces at Parchin for decades, while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated its concern that Iran might have experimented there with high explosives relevant to the triggering of nuclear weapons. Responding to Western media reports that the United States and its allies will press Iran to shut down the Fordow uranium enrichment site near Qom, Abbasi Davani said, "All of our activities are monitored by the agency [IAEA]. Why should we shut it down?" He explained that because Iran was concerned that the Natanz enrichment site might be attacked by the United States and Israel, leading to a release of radioactive material, Iran decided to develop a safer enrichment site. He emphasized, "We do not need to enrich uranium above 20 percent, and therefore will not do so."

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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