Iran Says Only Negotiations Can Resolve Nuclear Standoff

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast. Photographer: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said only negotiations and not sanctions can resolve the standoff over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

“Consensus can only be reached through serious negotiations based on a cooperative approach and not via the wrong path of sanctions,” Ramin Mehmanparast said yesterday according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

The comments come as European Union foreign ministers are set to meet in Brussels tomorrow to consider an oil embargo and additional financial sanctions on the country. The U.S. and the European Union are urging Iran to return to nuclear talks, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Jan. 20. If Iran’s leaders agree to a “serious dialogue,” they must be prepared to discuss steps to give up “options for nuclear weapons,” he said.

Iran is already under four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions. The U.S. and its allies say they suspect that Iran’s nuclear program is a cover for developing atomic weapons, a charge the Persian Gulf nation has repeatedly denied, maintaining the program is for civilian purposes. Mehmanparast told IRNA that claims that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons are “baseless.”

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said on Dec. 27 that sanctions against Iran’s oil industry may prompt the Islamic Republic to close the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for about a fifth of globally traded oil.

Aircraft Carrier

On Jan. 3, Ataollah Salehi, the head of Iran’s army, warned the U.S. against sending an aircraft carrier back to the Persian Gulf after the USS John C. Stennis left the area.

A Revolutionary Guard Corps commander said yesterday that the deployment of U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf was a routine occurrence.

Any U.S. decision to send a warship through the Strait of Hormuz was part of the U.S.’s continual presence, said Hossein Salami, a Revolutionary Guard deputy commander, Al Arabiya reported on its website.

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