Iran Reasserts Negotiations Redline: Arak and Fordo Must Remain Open in Final Deal
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, stressed on Saturday that the country’s red lines for any final nuclear deal with world powers remain unchanged, noting that a final agreement must include Iran’s demand to keep its Arak heavy water reactor and Fordo enrichment plant operational, the semi-official state news agency Fars reported.
Salehi said that, “the functioning and nature of the Arak Heavy Water Reactor…will remain unchanged as a heavy water facility.” He also noted that the Fordo uranium enrichment facility located near the city of Qom in central Iran must remain open, saying that Iran is “determined to make use of this site according to the guidelines of Iran’s Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “and the AEOI’s technical needs.”
Salehi’s statement underscored the fact that Iran had not yet reached a final agreement with the P5+1 powers, and said that Iran’s “long-term strategy is to materialize the macro-scale policies specified by the Supreme Leader.”
Last week, Salehi had announced that the technical issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program had been resolved in the course of recent talks in Switzerland with the US Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz.
Salehi noted that the sides were “facing a type of deadlock in the technical negotiations and the higher-ranking officials of the Islamic Republic assumed my presence was necessary in the negotiations in order to hold talks with the other side’s highest-ranking official, meaning the US Secretary of Energy, over details.”
Salehi claimed that his talks with Moniz proved fruitful, allowing positive steps to be taken, and said that, “We held talks on (uranium) enrichment, the Arak [heavy water] research reactor site, research and development, Fordo, and some other smaller issues.”
He added that, “good steps were taken on issues relating to enrichment and the Arak reactor, and we managed to dispel their imaginary concerns with the technical proposals that we raised, all the while defending our national interests and nuclear industry. This is a great achievement for the AEOI and those dear people who work in it.”
Ahead of the upcoming March deadline for a deal, US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Switzerland Sunday for the latest marathon round of talks with Iran about its nuclear program. He described the trip as the last chance for a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.