Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the importance of nuclear energy for his country, while again asserting that it had no interest in atomic bombs.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called claims that Iran was pursuing a bomb “nonsense," saying they were meant to deprive the country of its legitimate right to nuclear power.
In a televised speech on Thursday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the importance of nuclear energy for Iran, while again asserting that it had no interest in nuclear weapons.
Khamenei vowed that his country would ramp up development of its civilian nuclear program, as major world powers continued delicate talks in Vienna to revive Tehran’s landmark nuclear deal.
Khamenei’s remarks seemed to be aimed at the countries involved in the Vienna talks.
“Enemies are making cruel moves against our nuclear energy issue, (putting) sanctions on nuclear energy that they know is peaceful," he said. “They do not want Iran to achieve this great and significant progress.”
The accord, which former US President Donald Trump abandoned nearly four years ago, granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its atomic program.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, tweeted late on Wednesday that the parties were "closer than ever" to an agreement.
READ MORE: Iran: Removal of US sanctions is our 'red line' for nuclear deal revival
After weeks of intensive talks, we are closer than ever to an agreement; nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, though.— علی باقریکنی (@Bagheri_Kani) February 16, 2022
Our negotiating partners need to be realistic, avoid intransigence and heed lessons of past 4yrs.
Time for their serious decisions. https://t.co/kRnSte9Bzu
But talks have repeatedly stalled in recent months as Iranian negotiators press hard-line demands, exasperating Western diplomats.
Khamenei, who so far has largely stayed silent on the ongoing negotiations said that “If we do not pursue (peaceful nuclear energy) today, tomorrow will be late," he said.
Iran long has insisted its nuclear program is peaceful. But the country’s steps away from its obligations under the 2015 accord have alarmed its archenemy Israel and world powers.
Tehran has since started enriching uranium up to 60 percent purity — a short technical step from the 90 percent needed to make an atomic bomb.
READ MORE: US: Iran nuclear talks in 'decisive period'