Handing over enriched uranium a ‘red line’ – Iranian deputy FM

Handing over enriched uranium a ‘red line’ – Iranian deputy FM
Iran will not agree to send its stockpile of enriched uranium abroad, one of its chief negotiators said ahead of talks with world powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

But Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Iran would be more flexible on other aspects of the country’s uranium enrichm


Iran will not agree to send its stockpile of enriched uranium abroad, one of its chief negotiators said ahead of talks with world powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

se we will negotiate regarding the form, amount, and various levels of [uranium] enrichment, but the shipping of [enriched] materials out of the country is our red line," Araqchi was quoted as saying on Sunday by Iranian state television's website.

Talks on Iran’s nuclear program are set to resume in Geneva next week with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, the US, China, the UK and France) plus Germany, the so-called P5+1 group.

The October 15-16 talks will be the first round of negotiations since Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani took office in August, vowing to engage the world constructively and resolve the decade-long showdown over Tehran's nuclear program.

The previous high-level meeting between Iran and the P5+1 in the Kazakh city of Almaty ended with an impasse in April.

World powers proposed that Iran halt all 20 percent enrichment activities and transfer part of its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium to a third country under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision. The P5+1 also called on Tehran to suspend all operations at its Fordow facility near the city of Qom.

Despite the deadlock, Rouhani said in an interview with the Washington Post last month that reaching a nuclear deal with the P5+1 group should be a matter of “months, not years.”

Meanwhile, on Saturday senior Iranian lawmaker Mohammad-Hassan Asafari said Western governments should start lifting sanctions in the run up to the talks as a show of good faith with Tehran.

"To be fruitful, the negotiations need some positive steps taken by both sides," FARS News Agency cites Asafari as saying.  

"For instance, the Westerners can make some (positive) decisions (to remove the ban) on the insurance of Iranian oil tankers or revise their decisions with regard to the ban on the purchase of Iranian crude by China, India and Japan before the start of the [Geneva] talks in a bid to show their good will,"
he said.

Asafari, who is a member of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission's Presiding Board, added that Tehran is ready to show “more transparency” regarding its uranium enrichment with the P5+1.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, reached out to European powers over the weekend in an effort to keep the pressure on Iran.

Speaking with French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron, Netanyahu said sanctions imposed on Iran are close to “reaching their objectives” and should be increased, an Israeli government official told AP on condition of anonymity.  

Netanyahu has dismissed Rouhani’s softer approach towards the West as a trick aimed at loosening the tight sanctions regime targeting the Islamic Republic.  

Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat, while Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.