Zarif: Iran defense program not up for discussion

Zarif: Iran defense program not up for discussion
Thu Feb 20, 2014 20:17:57

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran’s defense and scientific capabilities are not negotiable and no Iranian nuclear site will be dismantled.

“Our framework is based on the Geneva accord (reached last November) and they (the six world powers) agreed on the point that only issues related to Iran’s nuclear program can be negotiated in these talks,” Zarif said in Vienna on Thursday following a new round of talks with the world powers.

“Our defense issues are out of [the question in] these talks; so are our defense capabilities,” he said, adding that Iran and the world powers – the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – have not discussed any dismantling of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“We announced officially that our [nuclear energy] program will continue and we will not shut down any site,” said the Iranian minister, reiterating the “fully peaceful” nature of Iran’s nuclear energy program.

The Vienna talks over Iran’s nuclear energy program started between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on Tuesday.

The discussions were presided over by Zarif and EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

In a joint press conference with Ashton on Thursday, Zarif said, “We had three fruitful and extensive working days and both sides have the feeling that it was a good start for the difficult task we have ahead.”

The talks in Vienna were follow-up to earlier negotiations in Geneva, which resulted in a landmark interim deal between Iran and the six countries in November 2013. The deal took effect on January 20.

The next round of the talks between Iran and the world powers are to be held in Vienna on March 17.

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