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Iran’s Former Top Nuclear Negotiator: Tehran Will Never Dismantle Any Centrifuges

Former Iranian top nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian told Iranian media in a recent interview that the Islamic republic will never agree to dismantle portions of its nuclear infrastructure, threatening to bring renewed focus to what has already become a contentious political debate over the degree to which the Obama administration has accurately conveyed the current interim agreement with Iran and the prospects for a comprehensive deal that would verifiably put the country’s nuclear program beyond use for weaponization.

“Dismantling will never occur on Iranian enrichment program,” Hossein Mousavian, Iran’s former ambassador to Germany and onetime top nuclear negotiator, told the Iranian press over the weekend… “If we accept limitations in the final deal to build trust on enrichment, (the limitations) should be only for the trust-building era and not forever,” Mousavian, who served as Iran’s spokesman during nuclear negotiations with the European Union, was quoted as saying. “We also define Iran’s practical needs for our nuclear program and activities and not for major powers. This issue should be always seriously focuses in final talks.”

Mousavian’s statements echo those of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who told CNN in January that Iran had not committed to dismantling any centrifuges under the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA), and of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who told CNN in a separate interview that Tehran would not agree to dismantle any centrifuges under a final deal. The interviews were described as a “diplomatic trainwreck” by CNN host Fareed Zakaria and deepened analyst fears that Rouhani is either unable or unwilling to deliver a robust comprehensive deal. White House efforts at dismissing the significance of the boasts were met with borderline derision by journalists. An extended analysis published last month by the U.S.-based Institute of Science and International Security (ISIS) calculated that any deal purporting to realistically put off Iranian weaponization would minimally require the country to remove 15,000 centrifuges, shut down its uranium-enriching underground military bunker at Fordow, downgrade the reactor at its plutonium-production facility at Arak, and agree to a 20-year inspection regime.

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