[QODLink]
Middle East

Iranian supreme leader approves nuclear talks

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says talks will help break "anti-Iran hype" that Tehran is trying to build an atomic bomb.

Last updated: 09 Apr 2014 19:17
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Ashton said world powers and Iran will need "a lot of intensive work" to "bridge differences" [Reuters]

Iran's supreme leader has given the green light for his country to resume talks with world powers to end its long-running nuclear disputes.

"Americans are well aware we are not after nuclear weapons, but they still raise the charges every now and then to keep up the anti-Iran hype," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, as he addressed a group of nuclear scientists and officials gathered to mark Iran's "Nuclear Technology Day," an important event in the Iranian calendar.

"That's why I agreed to the government's initiative to negotiate, just to break the hype and expose the truth to world opinion," he said, referring to moderate President Hassan Rouhani's diplomatic overture to the West after his landslide election last June.

But Khamenei's insistence that Tehran should not erode gains made by its scientists raised concerns of unresolved differences. 

Iran hopes to end decades-long sanctions that have battered its economy and will only be lifted if a deal is sealed. It also wants to regain what it sees as its rightful place as a leading regional power. 

Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, said his country, as well as the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, are in "50 to 60 percent agreement" on the shape of the deal, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Speaking at the end of two-day talks in Austria with world powers, Zarif said he expected an informal July deadline for a final deal to be met.

'Nuclear gains'

But Khamenei, who wields near absolute power in Iran, said there was a limit to how far Iran would go to satisfy its adversaries on the nuclear issue.

"Our pursuit of nuclear science will never halt. We will not cede any of our gains in nuclear research and development
and our negotiators must not allow the other side to bully Iran," he said, in comments cited by the official IRNA news agency.

"The decision to negotiate doesn't mean we will backtrack on the issue."

Speaking in Austria's capital Vienna, European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said "a lot of intensive work will be required to overcome the differences ahead," according to AP.

Ashton also said some progress was made and negotiators were now looking to the next round to "bridge the gaps standing in way of a comprehensive agreement".

The developments come amid a diplomatic spat between Iran and the US over Washington's apparent refusal to grant a visa to Tehran's newly appointed ambassador to the UN.

The US refused Hamid Aboutalebi a visa citing his alleged links to the 1979 US hostage crisis in Tehran. Washington has not had any diplomatic ties with Iran since the crisis.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Aboutalebi selection was "not viable", a day after the US Senate passed a resolution that would deny him a visa.

But Iran has defended Aboutalebi's appointment, brushing aside US concerns, and did so again on Wednesday.

475

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
A new book looks at Himalayan nation's decades of political change and difficult transition from monarchy to democracy.
The Church of Christ built a $200m megachurch while analysts say members vote in a block.
US state is first to issue comprehensive draft regulations for the online currency, but critics say they are onerous.
Survivors of Shujayea bombardment recount horror tales amid frantic search for lost family members.
Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed tells international donors to be more accountable and work more closely with the government.
join our mailing list