Washington, May 4 — Despite international pressure and years of talks, with more to come later this month, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) vowed to continue uranium enrichment and keep open the country's underground Fordow nuclear site.
"One thing is clear: the enrichment in Iran will never be suspended," said the envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh. He also said there is no reason to close the underground uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom because it is “safe.”
"Fordow is a safe place,” Soltanieh said. “We have spent a lot of money and time to have a safe place.”
Iran has long declared its right to achieve nuclear capability and insisted its program is solely for civilian purposes, despite reports to the contrary by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). At the same time, Iran’s leaders have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction, making the Islamic Republic the only U.N. member-country pushing for the annihilation of another.
Iranian leaders also deny the Holocaust, have vowed to share their nuclear know-how with like-minded countries and ignored a series of U.N. resolutions since 2006 calling for the country to curb its nuclear program.
Recent sanctions also won’t stop Iran, Soltanieh said. "Neither sanctions, nor military actions, nor terror against our scientists will stop the enrichment."
Iran engaged in talks with world powers – the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain – last month in Turkey following a lapse of more than a year. In the resulting joint statement, the countries urged Iran to provide more information about, and access to, key sites in its nuclear program.
"We remain concerned by Iran's persistent failure to comply with its obligations under UNSC (U.N. Security Council) resolutions," according to the statement, referring to continued international demands that Iran put a stop to its ever-burgeoning nuclear program.
Iran is scheduled to meet with the IAEA May 14-15 in Vienna and resume talks with the world powers May 23 in Baghdad.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Iran's state TV Thursday that “experts of the two sides should draw a plan to determine next steps in a transparent way and prepare the grounds for building confidence.”