Lift sanctions if you want quick solution, says Iran
Iranian Army soldiers march before the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (top-c) during a ceremony marking the annual National Army Day in Tehran. The country’s air, naval and ground forces participate in a massive military parade. AA photoIran has called on the West to consider lifting its sanctions if it wants to quickly resolve the showdown over Tehran’s disputed nuclear activities, a prospect swiftly ruled out by Washington.
Iran’s vice president at the same time said his country was ready to sign oil industry contracts worth tens of billions of dollars, the latest claim by officials downplaying the impact of Western sanctions imposed on Tehran for its controversial nuclear activities.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi outlined his country’s message in an interview with ISNA news agency on April 16, following talks over the weekend in Istanbul between Iran and world powers. “If the West wants to build trust, it should begin with sanctions, because it can help speed up the talks reaching a solution,” Salehi was quoted as saying. “If goodwill [from the West] is present... we are ready to rapidly and easily, and even in the Baghdad meeting, resolve all issues” regarding Iran’s nuclear program, he said. The foreign minister appeared to suggest that the level of enrichment could be up for discussion.
90 percent needed for bomb
However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during a trip to Brazil on April 16, insisted that the “burden of action” is with Iran to prove it is serious in nuclear talks, dismissing Tehran’s appeals for world powers to ease sanctions first. “The burden of action falls on the Iranians to demonstrate their seriousness and we’re going to keep the sanctions in place and the pressure on Iran” as Tehran prepares for the talks in Baghdad next month, Clinton said in Brasilia. “We’ll respond accordingly,” Agence France-Presse quoted her as saying.
While Iran’s negotiators will take the position in Baghdad that producing 20 percent enriched uranium “is our right,” Salehi said if the world powers “guarantee they will provide us with fuel of various purities, it will change the perspective.” Iran currently enriches uranium to 3.5 percent and to 20 percent. Uranium has to be enriched to 90 percent or above for use in an atomic bomb.
Iran’s Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi also said yesterday at Tehran’s annual international oil industry exhibition that Iran is ready to sign $44 billion worth of contracts immediately, part of $250 billion in planned investments in the sector in coming years. He did not provide details on what the contracts might include and who might sign. He said the sanctions, which include an EU oil embargo set to go into effect in July, were an “opportunity” for Iran, The Associated Press reported. Iran says 315 foreign companies participated in the exhibition.
Show of force
Iran also marked National Army Day yesterday, displaying its military power in a parade. The country’s air, naval and ground forces participated in a massive military parade as part of the celebration. The parade showed off Iran’s various radar systems (Melli Radar), rocket systems (Fajr-5, Tufan, Shahin, Mersad 2, Naziat 6 and Naziat 10), enhanced and updated Zulfugar and T72S tanks, armored personnel carriers, military trucks, helicopters, unmanned aircraft, ballistic missiles, 175 MM cannons and more, according to Trend News Agency.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran will respond with force to any threats to its territorial integrity during the ceremony.