Irananian President confirms progress in nuclear talks

Iranian President confirms progress in talks ahead of deadline; Ayatollah threatens gas imports halt if sanctions not pulled; Diplomat confirms limited briefing to Israel on nuclear talks

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at WEF (AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at WEF (AP)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani confirmed reports that progress is being made in nuclear talks with world powers. Talks between the P5+1 and Iran are set to end with a framework agreement by March 31 to be implemented by the end of June this year.

Rouhani stated that, Iran has “made highly important progress in the nuclear field, but the negotiations receive so much attraction and hue and cry that they overshadow these activities; otherwise, we are running at a higher speed.”

He insisted that Iran’s nuclear efforts are peaceful and for science only, denying any intention for creating nuclear arms. He stated on negotiations that “We don’t and will not take permission from anyone to make progress in science and knowledge.”

Meanwhile Iranian Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Ali Knamenei threatened to resist sanctions by world powers on Iran by cutting gas exports if needed. He stated that “The enemy is using the lever of sanctions to the hilt and their goal is to stop our people’s progress. I believe that if we allow them to dictate to us on the nuclear issue, they will still keep the sanctions in place because what they are against is the very foundation of our revolution.”

He added that “hard work must be done” to make a deal with world powers to lift sanctions stating, “We can withstand the sanctions and neutralize and foil the enemy’s goals. If we don’t, the enemy would proceed and place conditions on our nuclear program and impose sanctions. If sanctions are to be the way, the Iranian nation can also do it. A big collection of the world’s oil and gas is in Iran so Iran if necessary can hold back on the gas that Europe and the world is so dependent on.”

Israel has been strict in its stance against a nuclear deal with Iran, lobbying and pressing diplomatically to halt any agreement. Prime Minister Netanyahu has even been invited to Congress to address nuclear Iran, despite objection by the White House.

Reports released Wednesday also confirmed that European officials have in fact cautioned the US Department to not fully brief Israel on profess made in nuclear talks between world powers and Iran as “the details could be twisted to undermine a deal.” The White House has denied any such reports for the past two weeks, a European diplomat in nuclear negotiations confirming Wednesday.

Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is scheduled for March 3.