Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday progress has been made in his talks with EU diplomatic chief Catherine Ashton over his country’s disputed nuclear program.
“We have made progress; we exchanged views during lengthy discussions that we have had in the last two days in Istanbul with Catherine Ashton,” who represents world powers, said Zarif.
“Iran is determined to find a solution that respects the rights of the Iranian people and also clear up any misunderstandings about the sites of the Iranian nuclear program,” Zarif told reporters in Algiers.
“It’s a matter of time, but also political will must be expressed to reach an agreement. I can assure you the other party has the political will to reach an agreement,” he added.
However, just days ago, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameni made another fiery speech. He pushed for Iran to continue its nuclear program saying those who want to negotiate are “guilty of treason.” That’s in stark contrast to the tone taken by the country’s president Hassan Rouhani.
CCTV America Insight: Future of IranJust days ago, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameni made another fiery speech. He pushed for Iran to continue its nuclear program saying those who want to negotiate are "guilty of treason." That's in stark contrast to the tone taken by the country's president Hassan Rouhani.
Nuclear negotiations with Iran have been ongoing for more than a decade. They were expanded in 2006 to include countries like Russia and China.
But the United States held out on direct talks until it secured key concessions from Iran concessions that President Hassan Rouhani was willing to make.
Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran, said “We told that world that we do not want to attack anyone and we do not want war.”
Rouhani has his critics at home powerful critics. Like Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
On Sunday he said the era of negotiation is over, adding: “Iran needs to arm itself and must have the capability to defend itself. Today’s world is full of thieves and plunderers of human honor.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, said that” I think as the talks with Iran continue, one thing must guide the international community – that is, we must not let the Ayatollahs win. We must not let the foremost terrorist state of our time, Iran, develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons.”
Analysts say that type of warning from key US allies like Israel, and Saudi Arabia, have left negotiators in a difficult position. Similar rhetoric in November caused one meeting to end just minutes after it began.
But all sides continued to push for progress. The latest round of talks ended two weeks ago.
Michael Mann, Spokesperson, EU Foreign Policy Chief, said: “The atmosphere is always very cordial between the two sides and very business-like. We are now hoping to move to a new phase in the negotiations, in which we will start pulling together what the outline of an agreement could be.”
The latest goal for a deal-now July 20. Rouhani is eager to reach an agreement, if for nothing else but to further reduce wide-ranging economic sanctions. They’ve led to a severe devaluation of the Iranian currency and crippled sectors of the Iranian economy– like oil.
Many countries have banned business with Iran. But not China. In fact, China has become Iran’s top trading partner with imports of Iranian oil hitting a record high in April up 115 percent from the previous year.
The next round of nuclear talks are set for June 16 in Vienna.
Larry Korb, senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information, joined CCTV’s Insight on Iran’s future.
Interview with Larry Korb on Iran\'s futureLarry Korb, senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information, joined CCTV's Insight on Iran's future.