Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
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 today.
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
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
"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.
Diplomats and analysts acknowledge that it probably will be
even more difficult to reach a final agreement as the Western
powers would likely press for a significant scaling back of
Iran's nuclear programme, including of the number of
centrifuges that it uses to refine uranium.
Iran says it is enriching uranium to low levels for a planned
network of nuclear power plants. But uranium can also be used
to assemble bombs if refined further to a high fissile
concentration, which the West fears may be Iran's ultimate
U.S. officials have made clear Iran's planned Arak heavy
water reactor - which could yield bombb-grade plutonium once
operational - must be dealt with under any settlement and
Washington has also questioned Iran's need to have a uranium
enrichment site buried deep underground at Fordow.
Zarif said Iran was "prepared to make sure that the programme
is exclusively peaceful and create the necessary
understanding for the West. I believe there are multiple ways
of doing that and we are willing to entertain those ways."
But, he added: "I can tell you that Iran's nuclear programme
will remain intact. We will not close any programme."