Hardliners in Iran Protest Nuclear Talks

November 23, 2014  

Tensions over a possible nuclear deal between Iran and world powers were on display on Sunday outside an atomic facility in Tehran, where a rare protest saw hardliners criticize government negotiators.

According to a report by the AFP news agency, about 200 people, mostly students, gathered at the entrance to the Tehran Research Reactor to protest the negotiations with the West, the first such officially approved demonstration in months.

It coincided with the penultimate day of talks in Vienna between Iran and the United States and other leading states about a permanent nuclear deal.

“Nuclear energy is our absolute right,” and “Sanctions won’t stop us,” read placards held by protesters, many of them suggesting there should be no compromise on Iran’s disputed atomic activities.

They chanted “Death to America” while a designated speaker rounded on the conduct of the year-long negotiations which entered their final 36 hours with a deal hanging in the balance.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister who is leading the talks in the Austrian capital, “do not know how to do diplomacy”, the speaker said, according to AFP.

One woman held a banner that said, “The centrifuges are not working, nor is the economy,” alluding to Rouhani’s pledge to restart talks with the West to help Iran’s sanctions-hit economy recover.

One demonstrator, a medical student who did not want to give her name, said she was “pessimistic about the Americans involved in the negotiations.”

“We want an agreement where if we give something we get something in return, and what we want is a total removal of sanctions,” she said.

Meanwhile, the talks in Vienna continued in an attempt to reach a deal by Monday’s deadline, as an Iranian official said that reaching a deal with the West over its nuclear program by Monday is “impossible”.

The official said the discussion “may soon have to shift from trying to reach an agreement to extending negotiations past tomorrow’s deadline for the end of this round of negotiations.”

The Islamic Republic hotly denies its nuclear program is meant to build a nuclear weapon, even though the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has revealed Iran is not abiding by the interim conditions in refusing to answer questions on the military aspects of its program.

The latest reports indicated that the United States had suggested to Iran that it consider extending nuclear talks, as little progress had been made.

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