Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday that he is confident that a lasting agreement can be struck with world powers over his country’s disputed nuclear program, AFP reported.
Tehran and the so-called P5+1 group of nations have been locked in talks since February on a permanent nuclear deal aimed at ending a decade-long diplomatic crisis.
Despite making progress, the two sides failed to clinch a definitive deal by a November deadline and agreed to extend the talks for another seven months.
A final agreement is aimed at ensuring Tehran will never develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian activities, and would lift international sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
“I am confident that a comprehensive agreement is imminently within reach,” Zarif wrote in a letter published by his ministry and quoted by AFP.
“It requires foresight, political will and recognition of realities by our negotiating partners as well as the audacity to make the right choice benefiting the entire global community,” Zarif added.
Last week, another inconclusive round of negotiations was held in Geneva between Iranian officials and the six powers. Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, said following the talks that they had been “very useful and helpful” and that the next round was scheduled for next month.
Nevertheless, Zarif said on Wednesday Iran rejected “arbitrary, degrading and unlawful demands” made by other countries over its enrichment of uranium, which Tehran insists is part of a peaceful energy program.
France and Britain said last week that Iran had not demonstrated sufficient flexibility in nuclear talks.
Senior French diplomat Philippe Bertoux told the UN Security Council, “In spite of insufficient flexibility demonstrated at this stage by Iranian negotiators, we’d like to believe that Iran does seek a long-term agreement.”
“We would expect that Iran takes strategic choices and courageous decisions” in upcoming rounds of negotiations, he added.
Before the talks were extended, Iran had been toughening its stance, with Araqchi saying he sees no prospect for a deal unless the other side abandons its “illogical excessive demands”.
A senior Iranian official followed those comments by declaring that Iran will demand that all Western sanctions be lifted as part of a final deal, rejecting an American proposal of a gradual lifting of sanctions.