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Iran stands firm on maintaining a nuclear program

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

TOKYO: Iran's foreign minister pushed back Wednesday against calls for deeper cuts to its nuclear program.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said the West "cannot entertain illusions" of Iran completely ending its uranium enrichment program. Speaking in Tokyo, he also reiterated that his country is not going to halt construction of a heavy-water nuclear reactor.

"We're not going to close it. We're not going to dismantle it. We're not going to close or dismantle anything, that is our red line," he said at a news conference before meetings with the Japanese prime minister and foreign minister. "But we will address proliferation concerns that people may have."

His remarks came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Washington, D.C., that Iran must dismantle its enrichment facilities and the reactor.

Iran is trying to negotiate a deal with the U.S. and five other global powers to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions. An interim agreement was reached in November, and the parties have begun negotiating a final deal.

Zarif said some appear to be trying to torpedo the talks, making a veiled reference to the crowd at Nethanyahu's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, "but I don't think they'll succeed because there is no other game in town. That's the only game. That's the only reasonable game."

Zarif also said Iran is eager to tap Japan's nuclear power technology and also seeks investment in its oil, gas and petrochemical industries.

 

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