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Iranian Officials Underline “Red Lines” Against Dismantling Nuclear Infrastructure, Halting Ballistic Missile Development

Agence France-Presse (AFP) Monday conveyed statements from various Iranian officials laying out “red lines” in the context of upcoming nuclear negotiations, with top political and military figures ruling out a range of concessions on issues related to ballistic missile development, the status of atomic sites, and uranium enrichment capabilities.

But on Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, also a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, said “defence-related issues are a red line for Iran and that Tehran “will not allow such issues to be discussed in future talks.”

The US lead negotiator in the talks, Wendy Sherman, last week told a Senate hearing Iran’s ballistic missile programme would be addressed in the comprehensive deal.

Iranian TV meanwhile carried statements from Defense Minister Hussein Dehgan boasting that Iran had successfully tested new advanced projectiles, including ballistic missiles.

AFP noted in its coverage that, in contrast to Sherman’s statements regarding Iran’s plutonium production and uranium enrichment sites, Iranian nuclear negotiator Majid Takhte Ravanchi reemphasized today that Iran had ruled out closure of “any of its nuclear sites.” Iranian state media coverage of Ravanchi’s statement is here.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had already boasted last week at a Tehran news conference that “America has wishes” involving Iran giving up substantial parts of its nuclear program, but that “those wishes are unlikely to come true.”

Meanwhile Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi reportedly told Iran’s state broadcaster that Iranian scientists had developed a new generation of centrifuges:

“We unveiled a new generation of centrifuges that surprised the Westerners … This new machine is 15 times more powerful than the previous generation,” he said, quoted by the state broadcaster on its website, iribnews.ir.

He said the development was not in violation of a November 24 agreement between Iran and six world powers that has imposed curbs on Tehran’s nuclear drive.

“We successfully argued that this was allowed within the research and development article in the agreement,” Salehi added.

U.S. analysts and diplomats have repeatedly insisted that any deal that substantively diminishes Iran’s nuclear weapons capability must include the dismantling of tens of thousands of centrifuges, the shuttering of at least some uranium enrichment facilities, and downgrades at Iran’s plutonium-production facility at Arak. Obama administration officials have for the last few months assured lawmakers that they’re confident they have the leverage to pressure Iran into making substantive concessions.

[Photo: Global News Archive / YouTube]