(Reuters) – Iran will insist that all sanctions against it are lifted as a condition for a nuclear deal, the foreign minister said on Wednesday, showing no sign of compromise on a major sticking point in its talks with world powers set to resume this week.
“This is the position that the government has insisted on from the start,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying.
The United Nations, United States and European Union have imposed a wide array of sanctions on Iran to try to curtail its nuclear program as they fear Tehran wants to develop an atomic weapon. Iran insists its aims are peaceful.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, said in a speech last week that the immediate lifting of sanctions must be a part of any nuclear deal.
Western officials have consistently rejected that demand, and a senior European negotiator last week said the immediate lifting of all sanctions was “out of the question”.
Officials from Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the United States, Britain, France,Germany, Russia and China – are due to resume nuclear talks on Thursday aimed at resolving a decade-old standoff over the country’s nuclear program.
Negotiatiors want to agree on a political framework deal by the end of March, three months before the end-June deadline for a comprehensive nuclear pact.