(Adds comment from official in Tehran, background, byline)
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA May 2 Iran is optimistic about progress
in talks with world powers over its nuclear programme but it
will never give up its right to the peaceful use of atomic
energy, a senior Iranian official said on Wednesday.
Tehran reopened negotiations with six world powers over its
uranium enrichment programme last month and they have agreed to
meet again in Baghdad on May 23.
"We continue to be optimistic about upcoming negotiations,"
Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mahdi Akhondzadehhe said in a
speech to a nuclear non-proliferation conference in Vienna.
But he added: "There should be no doubt that the great
nation of Iran...will never abandon exercising its inalienable
right to peaceful use of nuclear energy and technology,"
The United States and its allies say Iran's nuclear program
is a cover for developing atomic weapons, a charge Tehran
They have imposed new sanctions against Iran's energy and
banking sectors since the beginning of this year and the
European Union is set to impose a total embargo on the purchase
of Iranian crude oil in July.
The talks with the United States, Russia, China, Germany,
France and Britain resumed last month in Istanbul after more
than a year - a chance for the powers and Iran to halt a
deterioration in diplomacy and help avert the threat of a new
Middle East war.
Separately in Tehran, an adviser to Iran's supreme authority
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Baghdad talks should lead to the
lifting of sanctions, according to Iranian media.
The comments reflect increasing emphasis in the Islamic
state that an end to sanctions is vital to the talk's success.
It was also the first time an influential political figure
explicitly said he expects progress on the issue in Baghdad.
"At the least, our expectation is the lifting of sanctions,"
Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel said in answer to a question.
Western governments have credited the sanctions against
Iran's financial institutions as instrumental in forcing Tehran
back to the negotiating table.
European diplomats have said an EU oil embargo is a valuable
tool and is unlikely to be lifted unless tangible progress is
made at the meeting.
"I hope the Baghdad negotiations complete the talks that
took place in Istanbul and the other side should take note that
it should use rational behaviour with Iran and country will
never surrender to pressure," Fars news agency quoted Haddad
Adel as saying.
(Additional reporting by Marcus George in Dubai; Writing by
Alessandra Rizzo; Editing by Angus MacSwan)