x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Iran ready to resume nuclear talks

The Iranian president insisted he will press ahead with the country's nuclear programme but added he was ready to resume talks with the West in September.

Iran said today it will press ahead with its nuclear programme, but also declared its readiness to resume talks with world powers on the issue despite the imposition of harsh new European Union sanctions. "Iran will resume nuclear talks with the West in September," the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinjad, was quoted as saying by Iran's state-run Press TV. On Monday, the EU slapped tough sanctions against Iran's energy and banking sectors in an effort to curb Tehran's nuclear programme and persuade the Islamic republic to return to talks on its atomic activities. Canada announced similar measures yesterday. Iran said it "deeply regrets and condemns" the new EU sanctions. The measures "will not affect Iran's determination to defend its legitimate right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme", said Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast.

Russia also attacked the EU's move. "We have already said many times that we consider unacceptable the practice of unilateral or collective sanctions measures against Iran," Russia's foreign ministry said. The EU sanctions follow similar measures imposed by the United States this month: both go well beyond a fourth set of United Nations sanctions imposed on June 9 over Iran's refusal to freeze uranium enrichment. Among the EU measures are a ban on the sale of equipment, technology and services to Iran's energy sector. They also restrict private-sector interactions with Iran's finance, insurance and transportation sectors. The package was "by some way the most far-reaching sanctions adopted by the EU against any country", EU officials said.

The last high-level talks between Iran and six world powers - the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany - were held in Geneva in October. The two sides reached a tentative accord on a nuclear fuel swap deal that later stalled. Iran said yesterday it was ready to resume talks on the fuel exchange without preconditions. Mr Ahmadinejad said today he wanted Brazil and Turkey to participate in the negotiations. mtheodoulou@thenational.ae