Iran is ready to take concrete steps to ensure its nuclear program remains peaceful but will not “kneel in submission” to do a deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said before a resumption of talks with major powers on Wednesday.
In a video message posted on YouTube, Zarif added Tehran was committed to resolving a dispute over its nuclear work before a deadline of July 20 but cautioned against seeking last minute concessions from the Islamic Republic at the Vienna talks.
A nuclear agreement would make history, he said, adding Iran is “willing to take concrete measures to guarantee that our nuclear program will always remain peaceful.”
But he added: “To those who continue to believe that sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, I can only say that pressure has been tried for the past 8 years, in fact for the past 35 years.”
“It didn’t bring the Iranian people to kneel in submission. And it will not now nor in the future.”
Zarif said both negotiating parties could put an end to “the myth” that Iran is seeking to build a bomb.
The talks between Iran and six world powers are aimed at resolving a more-than-decade-long standoff with Iran that has raised fears of a new Middle East war and a regional nuclear arms race ahead of a July 20 deadline for an agreement.
Washington and some of its allies suspect Iran’s program is designed to produce nuclear weapons – a charge denied by Iran, which says it is only interested in generating electricity and other peaceful projects.
Both sides have said publicly their goal is to have a deal by July 20, the expiration date of an interim accord that grants Iran modest relief from tough economic sanctions in return for some curbs on its atomic work.
In a statement, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Iran would need to be realistic about the steps required to resolve the international community’s serious concerns about its nuclear program.
“We will not accept a deal at any price. A deal that does not provide sufficient assurances that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon is not in the interests of the UK, the region or the international community.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday warned Iran it still had to prove its nuclear ambitions were peaceful.
In an article in the Washington Post, Kerry chided Iran by saying its “public optimism about the potential outcome of these negotiations has not been matched, to date, by the positions they have articulated behind closed doors.”
(Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
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