Iranian figures continued this week to lengthen the list of red lines they intend to take into comprehensive nuclear negotiations, weeks after statements by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – in which the revolutionary-era cleric rejected destroying nuclear enrichment centrifuges – had already led CNN’s Fareed Zakaria to declare that he wasn’t sure what negotiators could even talk about “if these are the opening positions.”
Rouhani’s red line against dismantling enrichment equipment was subsequently underlined by a range of top Iranian officials, and reemphasized by the president himself. On Wednesday, Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran’s delegation to the United Nations, also ruled out downgrading Iran’s heavy water reactor at Arak, which once it is activated will be able to produce enough plutonium for one to two nuclear bombs per year.
“It is now too late to change [the Arak reactor] into a light-water prototype, as some have suggested in the West,” Babaei wrote. “This ‘generous’ offer should have been made much earlier.” His assertion came a week after Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, reportedly expressed openness to modifying the Arak site “to produce less plutonium.”
Changes to the Arak reactor had earlier been rejected by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“Iran’s nuclear technology is non-negotiable and comments about Iran’s nuclear facilities are worthless and there is no need to negotiate or hold talks about them,” AFP quoted Mohammad Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying, citing Iranian media. “Those who know our peaceful objectives are also aware that we will not negotiate about our [nuclear] facilities,” Zarif added.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who also serves as a key Iranian nuclear negotiator, this week dismissed any possibility that Iran will accept limitations on its ballistic missile program. A report recently published by the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) assessed that any robust deal with Iran would minimally have to see Tehran dismantling 15,000 centrifuges and downgrading its Arak reactor, alongside additional concessions and verification mechanisms.
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