TEHRAN, Iran — President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that Iran will not abandon its nuclear rights, including uranium enrichment, media reported a day after a fresh round of talks with world powers failed to reach an agreement.
"There are red lines that must not be crossed," Rouhani told the conservative-dominated parliament in remarks quoted by the ISNA news agency.
"The rights of the Iranian nation and our national interests are a red line. So are nuclear rights under the framework of international regulations, which include enrichment on Iranian soil," he said.
His remarks came a day after intensive negotiations with world powers — despite making progress — failed to produce a long-elusive deal that would curb Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
Efforts faltered after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius insisted any deal include suspension of construction on Iran’s heavy-water reactor in Arak and commitments to reduce its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium.
Meanwhile, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said France has been “openly hostile” toward Iran in recent years, taking an “imprudent and inept” stance.
The comments were posted today on the Twitter account of Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, after three days of negotiations between the Iranians and world powers meant to ease the dispute over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. The tweets were taken from a speech Khamenei made in March 21 in Iran’s holy city of Mashahd, according to his website.
“French officials have been openly hostile toward the Iranian nation over the past few years,” Khamenei said in the tweet. “This is an imprudent and inept move.”
The P5+1 group in the talks — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany — suspects that Iran's atomic ambitions are aimed at developing nuclear weapons, despite repeated denials.
A Western diplomat, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are delicate, said told Bloomberg news service that the U.S., European Union and Iran had worked for months on a proposal and criticized the French for raising last-minute objections.
At least a year away from becoming operational, the Arak facility would theoretically provide Iran with a second route to an atomic bomb by producing plutonium as a by-product.
Iran says it has no intention of extracting plutonium from Arak's irradiated fuel, while its chief negotiator and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did not rule out further talks in Geneva over the issue.
"The heavy water (project) is after all part of Iran's nuclear program, and we are supposed to discuss it," Zarif told Iranian journalists in Geneva when asked about the Arak reactor, ISNA reported.
"We insist on our (nuclear) rights and technology but at the same time we are prepared to remove concerns of the other parties," he said, adding that Iran "does not want anyone to think we seek weapons through enrichment or the heavy water" facility.
In Tehran, meanwhile, Rouhani pleaded for the backing of parliament as his negotiators prepare for a new round of talks scheduled in Geneva for Nov. 20.
"If we want to succeed in these negotiations, we need the support of supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and that of the lawmakers," he said.
Hardliners in Iran had also been skeptical, fearing that Iran's negotiating team would offer too many concessions.
Rouhani said Iran would "not bow to threats from any power," while also insisting that the sanctions targeting its ailing economy had not forced Tehran to the negotiating table.
"We have practically and verbally told the negotiating sides that threats, sanctions, humiliation and discrimination will never produce a result," he said.
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