x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ex-Iran president attacks 'dishonest and bullying' world powers in nuclear talks

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his allies, who support the broad lines of Iran's controversial nuclear programme, but are more open to compromise with the West than hardliners, are also frustrated by the progress of negotiations.

TEHRAN // An influential former president associated with a centrist branch of the clerical establishment has criticised world powers for their "bullying" and "dishonesty" in recent nuclear talks in Moscow, Iranian newspapers report.

The comments suggest that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his allies, who support the broad lines of Iran's controversial nuclear programme, but are more open to compromise with the West than hardliners, are also frustrated by the progress of negotiations.

"The talks proved that the Western side is [not interested] in interaction and they are not honest. They have based their policy on bullying alone," Mr Rafsanjani was quoted by several Iranian dailies as telling a group of clerics. He also urged Iranian unity to thwart its enemies.

Two days of intensive nuclear talks in Moscow between Tehran and six world powers ended on Tuesday, with both sides agreeing only to continue low-level talks in early July. The P5+1 - the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany - want Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level that is just steps away from its use as the core of nuclear warheads.

Iran says it is enriching only to make reactor fuel or medical isotopes and insists it has a right to enrich under international law.

With neither side ready to accept what the other brought to the table in the form of inducements to compromise, diplomats familiar with the negotiations said they were in trouble from the start.

Along with recognition of the right to enrich, Iran seeks relief from growing UN and other sanctions, including spreading international embargoes on its oil sales. That is something the six are ready to grant only if Tehran agrees to enrichment suspension and related measures.

Mr Rafsanjani, 78, heads an advisory body to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, who has final say on all state matters.