Mohammad Javad Zarif with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at UN headquarters in New York on September 26, 2013
Mohammad Javad Zarif with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at UN headquarters in New York on September 26, 2013 © Stan Honda - AFP/File
Mohammad Javad Zarif with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at UN headquarters in New York on September 26, 2013
AFP
Last updated: October 6, 2013

Iran FM says powers must table new nuclear proposals

Iran on Sunday called for fresh proposals from the major powers in talks on its nuclear programme set to resume next week, the first since the election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the previous offer, made by the P5+1 group at two meetings in Kazakhstan in February and April, before Rouhani's June election, was no longer valid.

"The previous offer by the P5+1 is history and they should come to the negotiating table with a new approach," the ISNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying.

Those proposals required Iran to suspend uranium enrichment at the 20 percent level it says it needs for a medical research reactor, and to halt enrichment at its underground plant at Fordo near the central city of Qom.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the six powers in the talks, said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month that she was still waiting for Iran's response to those previous proposals.

After talks with foreign ministers of the six powers in New York on September 27, Zarif said he hoped a deal could be reached within a year to allay international concerns about Iran's ambitions.

On Sunday, he renewed his insistence that a deal could be reached to address the concerns of both sides.

"Our goal is to master peaceful nuclear energy, including uranium enrichment on our soil. Their goal is to keep Iran's nuclear programme peaceful forever.

"We should find a way to achieve both goals at the same time," he said.

CNN aired an interview with Zarif on Sunday in which he called for improved relations between Iran and the West.

"Nobody has benefitted from this pattern of relations that we've had over the last eight years. There is a need for change," he said.

"And I hope that everybody realises that we need to change that process, put an end to something that was a lose-lose situation and hopefully begin something that will be to the benefit of everybody."

Iran vows 'full transparency'

Western powers and Israel have long accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear bombs in the guise of a civilian programme, charges Tehran has always vehemently denied.

"We won't have a bomb, because we don't see it in our interests," Zarif told CNN.

ISNA quoted Zarif as saying Iran was ready to ensure "full transparency" to reassure the international community of the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

, comprising the five UN Security Council permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany.

They will be the first formal talks, the first direct contact between presidents of the two countries since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

“We support the diplomatic initiative of the government and attach importance to its activities in this trip," he told military commanders and graduating cadets in remarks carried Saturday by his website, Khamenei.ir.

However, Khamenei added that “some of what happened in the New York trip was not appropriate... although we trust in our officials.”

While he did not elaborate, analysts said his criticism was directed at the 15-minute telephone call between Rouhani and Obama.

Rouhani won a first-round election victory after vowing to engage with the international community in order to lift crippling US-led international sanctions.

On Sunday Economy

"The sanctions on Iran are working. They are very strong; they are a moment away from achieving their goal," Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting.

"The sanctions must not be eased before reaching the goal of dismantling Iran's enrichment capability -- the ability to produce nuclear weapons."

Netanyahu warned in a speech to the United Nations last week that Israel would act alone militarily if necessary to defend itself from Iran's nuclear programme.

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