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February 18, 2014 9:25 pm

As Nuclear Talks Begin, Foreign Minister Zarif Insists Iran Will Retain its ‘Nuclear Rights’

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton with reporters, on February 17, 2014. Photo: Screenshot / Press TV.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton with reporters, on February 17, 2014. Photo: Screenshot / Press TV.

As world powers prepared to meet in Vienna on Tuesday to open the first round of talks with Iran aimed at reaching a comprehensive agreement to limit the country’s nuclear program, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Islamic Republic would not relinquish its “nuclear rights,” Iran’s semi-official Press TV reported.

Speaking late on Monday after a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Zarif said, “We are going to start a discussion in good faith in order to address the problems that we decided in Geneva,” the location of an earlier round of talks. “We have an agenda that is set by the Joint Plan of Action. We know what we are supposed to do. Our objective is to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will remain exclusively peaceful. This is a common objective that we agreed upon in Geneva.”

Within Iran, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said Tehran does not expect results from the fresh round of talks with the six world powers.

“We do not expect results from this or next round of the talks,” Afkham said in her weekly press conference in Tehran on Tuesday, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

Meanwhile, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani “blasted the world powers for their deceptive behavior against Tehran, and advised them not to repeat their previous miscalculations during the talks with the Iranian team of negotiators in Vienna today,” according to a separate report by Fars.

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“While they know that Iran has pursued the path of peaceful nuclear technology and has accepted the (International Atomic Energy) Agency’s supervision, but they have acted against Iran’s nuclear case adventurously,” Larijani said, addressing the 9th Meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation Inter-Parliamentary Union in Tehran on Tuesday.

Larinaji said he hoped the world powers “won’t make miscalculations again,” and said, “Iran will continue the path of negotiations wisely.”

The talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — China, Russia, Britain, France and the United States — plus Germany, so far have seen the lifting of many of the economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for it agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear program. But critics of the deal, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the agreement will not impact Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons.

On Monday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said talks with world powers would “lead nowhere” but added that he was not opposed to them.

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