Source: Tehran Times
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has criticized the reported decision by the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) to offer to ease sanctions barring trade in gold and other precious metals with Iran in return for Iranian steps to shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment plant.
Fordow facility near Qom, Iran
"They must recognize our rights if they want the negotiations to produce results quickly, and we will allay their concerns based on a formula agreed upon by both sides... They have recently said, 'Shut down Fordo, halt enrichment, and we will lift the ban on trade in gold.'... They want to ignore the rights of a nation in return for allowing trade in gold," Mehmanparast said.
He added, "We are ready for negotiations, talks that follow a logical approach and fully recognize our rights. However, the steps must be equally significant and must be taken simultaneously."
Reuters quoted Western officials as saying on Friday that the offer was to be presented to Iran at February 26 talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and they acknowledged that it represented a relatively modest update to proposals that the six major powers had put forward last year.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials said their decision not to make a dramatically new offer in part reflected skepticism that Iran was ready to make a deal ahead of its June 14 presidential election.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons.
The core of the new offer revises last year's demand that Iran stop producing higher-grade uranium, ship any stockpiles out of the country, and close down its underground enrichment facility at Fordo, near the holy Iranian city of Qom.
Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Sunday that the Fordo uranium enrichment facility would never be closed down.
"Fordo is not different from our other nuclear sites because passive defense (measures) have been implemented there, and in view of the Zionist regime's repeated threats, it is logical and sensible that we implement passive defense (measures) at our sensitive centers like nuclear sites," said Boroujerdi, who is the chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.
"Fordo will never be closed because it is certainly our national duty to safeguard our nuclear and vital centers against the enemy's threats," he said. "This offer means helping the Zionist regime carry out its threats and target our facilities."
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