Iranian President Hassan Rohani said Tuesday that Iran will not forgo any part of its nuclear program, Iranian news agency Mehr reported. The president also said his country would not relinquish its right to nuclear technology, which he called "complete."
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Prior to Rohani's remarks, Western commentators had been optimistic that Iran was undergoing a policy change with regard to its contested nuclear program. Iran recently announced its Foreign Ministry would take over nuclear talks with world powers, removing conservative hardliners from the negotiations.
Offficials on Friday said the European Union and U.S. are moving closer to resuming international talks with Iran on its disputed nuclear program, buoyed by recent changes in Tehran's leadership.
"We are ready to come very quickly to talks," said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has led negotiations with Iran in recent years over allegations it is seeking to build a nuclear weapons program. "We really want to move now quickly to resolve this."
U.S. President Barack Obama said the election of centrist Hassan Rohani as Iran's president in June offers "the opportunity to demonstrate in acts and not just words that ... they do not pursue nuclear weapons."
Iran denies any interest in nuclear weapons, insisting that both uranium enrichment and nuclear reactors are meant for peaceful purposes, such as production of energy and medical and scientific research. Since 2006, it has shrugged off numerous U.N. Security Council and other international sanctions meant to curb its nuclear activities, as well as incentives offered during international negotiations and aimed at the same goal.
Also Friday, the EU General Court said it would throw out penalties imposed on eight Iranian banks and businesses for their alleged ties to Iran's nuclear program, because there wasn't sufficient evidence to justify the sanctions imposed by the bloc.
The court said sanctions would stay in place for at least two months pending any appeal. If an appeal is filed by an EU government, the sanctions would remain binding until a ruling.