One of Iran’s top former nuclear negotiators promised that Iran "will never" dismantle its nuclear enrichment program, and that Tehran’s current promises to curb these activates are only temporary.
"Dismantling will never occur on Iranian enrichment program," Hossein Mousavian, Iran’s former ambassador to Germany and onetime top nuclear negotiator, told the Iranian press over the weekend.
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Mousavian’s remarks have bolstered the fears of those who believe that Tehran is just buying time to advance its nuclear program, and came just days before the U.S. Treasury Department transferred $550 million directly to Iran as required under the recently signed interim nuclear agreement.
Mousavian, who currently lives in the United States where he is a research scholar at Princeton University, told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), that Iran would not accept any long-term limitations on its nuclear activities under a final accord.
"If we accept limitations in the final deal to build trust on enrichment, (the limitations) should be only for the trust-building era and not forever," Mousavian, who served as Iran’s spokesman during nuclear negotiations with the European Union, was quoted as saying. "We also define Iran's practical needs for our nuclear program and activities and not for major powers. This issue should be always seriously focuses in final talks."
Iranian leaders have asserted many times in recent weeks that the country would not dismantle any of its nuclear infrastructure, including the centrifuges used to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon.
The White House, which is refusing to release the full text of the nuclear deal, has avoided commenting publicly on this claim. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has dodged the question multiple times during his daily briefings, and White House spokesmen have declined Washington Free Beacon requests to issue a clarification on the centrifuge issue.
Mousavian went on to state that any "final" deal with Iran should last no longer than five years.
"The final agreement, if defined well, can last for three to five years, and then Iranian nuclear issue will be in its routine path," he was quoted as saying.
Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif briefly met over the weekend in Munich to discuss nuclear negotiations.
Zarif predicted on Monday that a final deal could be reached within the next six months and dismissed efforts by the U.S. Congress to impose new economic sanctions on Tehran.
"With good will we can reach an agreement within six months," he was quoted as telling the German lawmakers "I don't fear a decision in the U.S. Congress … The U.S. president has promised to veto it."
Iran received on Monday the first installment of some $4 billion in sanctions relief. The payments are being made directly to Iran and come as the result of the United States unfreezing Iranian assets that have been locked up in foreign banks.
Iran is scheduled to receive millions more in the coming weeks.
Mousavian did not respond to a request for comment.