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Iran: We expect ‘components’ of enrichment to be respected

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Days before another round of negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of  UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1), Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) that “components” of Iran’s right to enrichment should be respected but that a complete suspension is their red line. He also said that the specifics of enrichment are being negotiated.

While Zarif struck an optimistic tone in the ISNA interview, some Iranian media are predicting this upcoming round of negotiations will not achieve a deal, despite appearing to be close in the previous round.

Zarif said: “Iran’s right to enrichment does not need to be officially recognized because it is a right that according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty is an inseparable right. What we expect is respect for components of these rights. In the previous years, Iran has applied this right, but unfortunately it was not respected.” Rather, he added, it led to sanctions.

“We have reached an extremely sensitive point of the negotiations and I don’t want to discuss the specifics,” Zarif said. “We have officially stated that enrichment certainly has to exist in any framework of an agreement; but how, what methods and where is an issue we are currently negotiating.”

Zarif continued: “Not only do we see the right to enrichment as nonnegotiable, we do not see any necessity for it to be identified as a right, because this right is inseparable, and all of the countries should respect this.”

“In the negotiations with P5+1 we didn’t hear anyone want us to suspend enrichment,” Zarif said. “This issue in the first round (for an interim deal) in general was not the demand of any side. Some of the issues are related to enrichment that it’s possible it is the views of some of the delegations. In the previous negotiations this issue was also discussed but a general suspension is certainly our red line and we are not entering [negotiations] on this red line.”

On how long the specifics of the deal would remain confidential, Zarif said: “We have to reach a result on the various issues. … The negotiations are serious. If we wanted to use negotiations for propaganda purposes as was done in the past, we could have discussed the details in the media, but we want to reach a result and agreement and test every possibility for an agreement while protecting the rights of the Iranian nation.”

While Zarif appeared optimistic about the Nov 20 negotiations, some Iranian media are beginning to think a final deal is out of reach.

Hard-line website Yarasalat wrote that even if an interim deal is agreed to, the United States’ ultimate objective is to have Iran completely suspend their entire nuclear program. Mashregh news called the concessions that the United States put on the table for the interim “low value.” There are various reports that the P5+1 is offering about $10 billion in sanctions relief should they reach an interim deal with Iran. Raja News also balked at the figure, claiming it was close to $6 billion or $7 billion.

Tabnak website wrote: “In all of this optimism, one cannot have certain trust that in a successful nuclear negotiations in Geneva.” Citing various examples, it concluded that the history of negotiations between Iran and the West in the last 10 years has caused a “distrust towards the West.”