The Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, has said that Tehran does not intend to stop producing uranium enriched to a purity level of 20 percent.
According to the Mehr news agency, Jalili, who is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, made the remarks during a press conference in Istanbul on Saturday, after two rounds of talks between representatives of Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany, after a 15-month break in the talks.
The UN Security Council has demanded the suspension of enrichment, both to 20 and 3.5 percent levels. Iran has enough enriched uranium for around four bombs if the material is refined further to about 90-percent purity, according to Western sources..
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton represented the group of six nations in the nuclear negotiations and Jalili headed the Iranian delegation.
The two sides agreed to meet again in Baghdad on May 23, and Helga Schmid, the deputy secretary general for political affairs of the European External Action Service, and Ali Baqeri, the deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, will be drawing up an agenda for the Baghdad talks.
According to Reuters, Jalili made it clear at the press conference that Iran has no intention to halt operations at its plants that enrich uranium to contain 20 percent fissile material.
Referring to Iran’s rights, which have been stipulated in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Jalili said, “Enrichment of uranium is one of these rights that every individual member state should benefit from and enjoy for peaceful purposes.”
The main bone of contention between Tehran and the West is Iran’s uranium enrichment program.
Iran says all its nuclear activities are totally peaceful, and, as an International Atomic Energy Agency member and a signatory to the NPT, it has the legal right to produce nuclear fuel for its research reactors and nuclear power plants.
Commenting on the talks, Jalili stated, “We witnessed progress. There were differences of opinion… But the points we agreed on were important.”
Jalili also said, “The next talks should be based on confidence-building measures, which would build the confidence of Iranians.”
The continuation of the talks and their success depend on the adoption of the “approach of dialogue” rather than other approaches, he stated.
He also mentioned the fatwa (religious edict) that Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has issued declaring that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are all haram (prohibited in Islam).
Jalili noted that the Leader’s fatwa has “created an opportunity for concrete steps toward disarmament and non-proliferation.”
Regarding the fatwa, see “Asharq Al-Awsat’s Editor to Hillary: Don’t Be Fooled by Iranian ‘Anti-Nuke’ Fatwas.”