Iran says pressures may damage nuclear talks

Reuters News
Posted: May 14, 2012 6:28 PM
Iran says pressures may damage nuclear talks

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran warned Western powers on Sunday that applying pressure on Tehran could jeopardize talks on its nuclear program, state television reported.

"The era of a pressure strategy is ended. Any strategic miscalculations would endanger success at the Baghdad negotiations," said Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, quoted by state television.

Jalili was speaking with French former prime minister Michel Rocard who visited Iran ahead of the talks on May 23 in Baghdad with the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

Jalili called on Western officials to avoid "unconstructive remarks" ahead of the talks, the television said, without elaborating.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said on Friday she hoped the talks would form the basis for Iran to eventually abandon its "nuclear weapons program".

The West suspects Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its program is purely for peaceful purposes such as power generation.

Ashton's use of the term "nuclear weapons program" went beyond the language commonly used by Western officials, who usually describe Iran's efforts as an attempt to move towards a nuclear weapons capability.

In January, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Iran was keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities. But he said he did not know whether Iran would eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.

Negotiations over Iran's alleged military program and over access to suspect sites resumed in Turkey in April after a 15-month hiatus.

Iran has said it wants sanctions introduced by the United States and the European Union aimed at dissuading it from pushing ahead with its nuclear ambitions to be scaled back.

Western diplomats say Iran must first take concrete steps to ease their concerns.

The sanctions have targeted Iran's energy and banking sectors since the beginning of the year. The EU is preparing for a total embargo on the purchase of Iranian crude oil in July.

(Writing Firouz Sedarat; Editing by Janet Lawrence)