Iranian negotiators reject hardline criticism of nuclear talks

ABU DHABI Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:41pm EDT

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during an event to mark Nawroz, the Persian New Year, in Kabul March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during an event to mark Nawroz, the Persian New Year, in Kabul March 27, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Omar Sobhani

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ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Iranian hardliners stepped up criticism of Tehran's negotiations with world powers over its nuclear program on Wednesday, but negotiators defended the planned deal that could lead to an end to economic sanctions.

The hardliners, unsettled by the shift to a more moderate foreign policy since President Hassan Rouhani took office in August, have repeatedly criticized the talks in recent months but Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backs them.

Iran and six world powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China - struck an interim deal in November under which Tehran agreed to limit some of its nuclear work in return for the easing some sanctions imposed on Iran for its disputed atomic program.

They set a July 20 deadline to clinch a long-term deal that would allow a gradual lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions.

In their latest charge, critics of the negotiations leaked an audio recording purporting to show Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi criticizing Rouhani's view of the nuclear program, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Araghchi lashed out at his critics on Wednesday, saying the audio filed was "selected and distorted" and urging them not to play politics with what he called Iran's nuclear rights.

"I am worried. How far is this toying with our national interests going to go?" he was quoted as saying by IRNA, which did not name his hardline critics but said they appeared to belong to the far-right Steadfast Front party.

FOREIGN MINISTER OPTIMISTIC

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told Reuters he did not fear opposition from hardliners and was optimistic about reaching a comprehensive agreement with world powers by July 20.

"There is the political will to get an answer," he said in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday before boarding a plane to Tehran.

"The domestic audience will be satisfied if we have a good deal," he said. "Of course some people will never be satisfied but that is fine because we have a pluralistic society."

On Tuesday, the critics claimed Iran has had difficulty receiving billions of dollars of oil revenue unfrozen under an interim agreement struck with world powers in November.

Majid Takht-Ravanchi, another deputy foreign minister, promptly denied that, saying Iran's central bank has had no problem accessing the unblocked funds.

Araghchi, a key negotiator in the talks that produced the November interim deal, is one of the few carry-overs from the previous administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has also participated in bilateral discussions with the United States.

Iran and the six powers ended their latest round of talks in Vienna last week and said they would start drafting an agreement ahead of their next meeting there on May 13.

The Islamic Republic denies accusations by Israel, Western powers and their allies that it has tried to develop the capability to produce atomic weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear energy program.

During his visit to the United Arab Emirates, Zarif met with officials including Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed an-Nahyan and Energy Minister Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui.

Efforts to resolve the civil war in Syria were also among the topics discussed, but officials did not elaborate.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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Comments (3)
StephanLarose wrote:
Funny how Western powers make trumped up WMD claims like they did in Iraq, despite the fact that their own intelligence agencies unanimously agree that the nuclear weapons program was abandoned in 2003. Of course, war is big business, and Israel’s got a vastly disproportional level of influence in Washington. The US endorses apartheid and illegal nuclear weapons for Israel, but hypocritically, refuses to negotiate with Iran–a country it destabilized decades ago when it had the CIA overthrow their democratically elected president (Mossadegh) and installed the brutal Shah dictatorship. Why? To control Iran’s oil of course. No wonder the world looks at the US with such suspicion and disdain, the US doesn’t care about int’l law, human rights, democracy or any of that, the US is a hypocrite that wants to control global resources to maintain its military dominance and continue killing millions in illegal wars with impunity.

Apr 16, 2014 7:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ChangeIranNow wrote:
North Korea promised former President Jimmy Carter during his 1994 visit to Pyongyang it would close a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in exchange for food and humanitarian aid. The reactor was subsequently re-opened. Memo to the Obama administration: tyrants lie.

Apr 16, 2014 8:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
dontbgulible wrote:
Always remember as you are negotiating with iran,that it is very easy to tell when they are lying to you…..their mouth will be moving!!!!!!

Apr 17, 2014 12:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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