President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday insisted Iran will not back down from the "nation's rights" in talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
While stressing that "nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's defense doctrine," Raisi said his government will not back off "even one iota" in the Vienna nuclear talks from what it considers to be Iranian people's right to peaceful nuclear energy.
Raisi who was speaking at a ceremony to mark the National Nuclear Technology Day in Iran said Tehran "hasn't left [the Vienna talks] and will not leave them. "But our strategy is the same strategy announced by the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei]," he said, based on which his government and nuclear negotiators are obliged to support "the rights of the nation".
Vienna talks were abruptly paused in mid-March when negotiators returned to their capitals for what they said was consultations. Tehran and Washington have exchanged some messages through the European coordinator of the talks regarding unresolved issues.
Tehran and Washington, negotiating indirectly because of Iran refusal to sit down with the Americans, both blame the other side for the pause in the talks, insisting that the other party should make "political decision". Tehran's demands that its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) be removed from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
In his speech Saturday, Raisi made no mention of the IRGC and Tehran's demand.
An Iranian diplomat has told Reuters that Tehran has rejected a US proposal to resolve the issue by keeping the IRGC’s extraterritorial arm, the Qods (Quds) Force, under FTO sanctions, while delisting the IRGC as an entity.
There has been much opposition in Washington to the delisting of the IRGC and the Biden Administration has apparently not decided on Iran’s demand. The US State Department said in a statement Friday that President Joe Biden regards the Qods Force a terrorist group.
It is not clear from the statement whether Biden considers the whole of IRGC a terrorist organization or is trying to only keep the Qods Force on the terror list and remove the larger organization to reach a deal with Tehran.
The Biden administration believes that the revival of the 2015 deal can delay Iran’s nuclear breakout timeline, while opponents insist on continuing President Donald Trump's ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions until the regime is crippled or collapses.
Raisi also visited an exhibition by Iran's Atomic Energy Agency (AEOI) on Saturday and unveiled several new products and technologies including the first sample of silicide fuel disks to replace Tehran Research reactor's spent fuel, a detoxification system for pistachios using cold plasma, a cold plasma system and three radiopharmaceuticals for cancer treatment, sustainable zirconia powder production technology, and a laser source for micromachining used in making very small parts.
On the Nuclear Technology Day last year, in parallel with the start of nuclear talks in Vienna, Tehran launched advanced centrifuges for higher enrichment of uranium while reiterating that it was committed to nuclear non-proliferation.
Also addressing the ceremony in Tehran to mark the Nuclear Technology Day was the Head of AEOI Mohammad Eslami who said Tehran expects the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that monitors non-proliferation issues, not to succumb to pressures exerted by Tehran’s enemies, especially Israel.