Al-Jazeera: Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, said that Tehran will continue uranium enrichment and that its freeze on the process will not last long. The Hamshari newspaper quoted Rowhani as saying that "The length of the suspension will not be very long and will be valid for the duration of the negotiations and only on the condition that the negotiations make progress."
Al-Jazeera

Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, said that Tehran will continue uranium enrichment and that its freeze on the process will not last long.

The Hamshari newspaper quoted Rowhani as saying that "The length of the suspension will not be very long and will be valid for the duration of the negotiations and only on the condition that the negotiations make progress."

"In the future we will most certainly resume enrichment, but as for how long the suspension will last is going to depend on many factors." He added.

In November, Tehran agreed to voluntarily freeze all activities related to uranium enrichment, in exchange for trade, technology, nuclear and security benefits promised by the European Union.

But now the EU wants the Islamic republic to definitely abandon its enrichment program as well as all activities related to the development of plutonium.

Asked if Iran would continue enrichment before the end of President Mohammad Khatami's presidential term next August, Rowhani replied: "Negotiations should end before this date. But if they do not end we cannot wait until then."

"Our aim is to be able to continue our enrichment activities and at the same time to give the necessary guarantees to the international community that these activities are peaceful.

“The aim of the negotiations is to arrive at an agreement with the Europeans." He added.

The United States accuses Iran of covertly developing an atomic weapons program, a charge denied by Tehran which insists that its nuclear program is strictly aimed at the peaceful generation of technology.

On Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said that friendly ties with the the U.S. are impossible for the time being but suggested that informal contacts were possible through the Europeans.

Kharrazi also said that even if the U.S. was interested in improving its relations with Tehran "there can be no rapprochement" in the current atmosphere of animosity.

"I understand that in Europe, there is interest to engage the Americans," Kharrazi said at the World Economic Forum. "So far, our policy has been to engage the Europeans, who can coordinate matters as they wish on the American side."

Kharrazi added that they didn’t receive any “direct signal from the Americans" that they were interested in direct contacts with negotiations with Iran and suggested that such talks would take time.

"This has to be done in an atmosphere of mutual respect and that certainly is possible if the current policies of the administration are changed," he said, adding that "It's not justifiable to talk about regime change and all kinds of pressures and at the same time to welcome talks."

Once "the climate is corrected, that facilitates the rethinking" of improving relations with Washington, he said.

Also Sunday, the senior U.S. diplomat in charge of disarmament said that the U.S. and Gulf Arab countries are holding talks about pressuring Iran over an alleged threat from its nuclear and missile programs.

U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton told reporters in Bahrain that he was trying to form policies on Iran with its Gulf Arab neighbors.

"We discussed ways of putting additional diplomatic pressure on Iran to prevent it from acquiring the technology they need for nuclear weapons program, and also elaborated the steps we see coming in the future," Bolton said.

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