Iran determined to defend nuclear interests

Feb. 6, 2014 at 12:59 PM

TEHRAN, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Thursday his country was working to resist the temptation to break off from Western negotiations.

Iranian leaders have expressed frustration with what they said was bellicose rhetoric coming from U.S. officials in the wake of an interim nuclear agreement.

Zarif said Thursday "perhaps the easiest" way to settle the row was to "close the doors to negotiation."

"However, we firmly resist the temptation and [will] defend the Iranian national interests," he was quoted by the semiofficial Mehr News Agency as saying.

Iran's Fars News Agency said 190 of the 290 members of the Iranian Parliament endorsed a statement critical of testimony this week by U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.

Sherman told the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations the Iranian nuclear program was a "serious" threat to U.S. national security. A November interim agreement, she said, was a good "first step" to ensure "Iran is not building a nuclear bomb."

Iran under the terms of the November agreement said it would curb its enrichment activity in exchange for relief from some economic sanctions. The Iranian government maintains it has the right to a nuclear research program under international protocols and denies allegations it's working on a weapons program.

Talks are scheduled Feb. 18 in Vienna to discuss progress made on the nuclear agreement.

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