Iran has denied reports that it reached an agreement with the United States to reduce its ability to make nuclear weapons.
Citing two diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to publicly discuss the matter, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Friday that Iran and the U.S. had struck a deal that would require Tehran to ship its surplus enriched uranium to Russia.
“In another sign of progress, the two diplomats told The Associated Press that negotiators at the December round of nuclear talks drew up for the first time a catalog outlining areas of potential accord and differing approaches to remaining disputes,” added the AP.
Iran denied the AP report the following day, on Saturday.
“No agreement on any nuclear topic” had been reached, said Marzieh Afkham, a spokeswoman for Iran’s foreign ministry, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), reported The Guardian.
“Such news is spread out of political motives and its goal is to tarnish the climate of the talks and make it more complicated to reach a settlement,” added the spokeswoman.
The Guardian noted that, citing an “informed source,” the semi-official Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA), also denied the AP report.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that reaching an agreement to end some uranium enrichment should not be construed as having “compromised our principles and cause,” reported The Los Angeles Times, quoting Iran’s Fars News Agency.
“Our cause is not linked to a centrifuge. It is connected to our heart and to our willpower,” said the Iranian president, adding,”Our political life has shown we can’t have sustainable growth while we are isolated.”
Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful, denying that it wants to manufacture a weapon.
Talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, which includes the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany, are expected to resume in Geneva on January 15.
“The main conflict is over uranium enrichment, which can create both reactor fuel and the fissile core of nuclear arms,” reported AP. “In seeking to reduce Iran’s bomb-making ability, the U.S. has proposed that Tehran export much of its stockpile of enriched uranium — something the Islamic Republic has long said it would not do.”
“The diplomats said both sides in the talks are still arguing about how much of an enriched uranium stockpile to leave Iran,” the article continued. “It now has enough for several bombs, and Washington wants substantial cuts below that level.”
AP noted that negotiators hope to reach a final deal by June 30.