Iran general: We’ll never be on good terms with US

As sides wrestle over nuclear deal, head of Iranian ground forces says US seeks to ‘exploit nations and put them in chains’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, Iran's ground forces commander (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, Iran's ground forces commander (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

The United States will never be viewed positively in Iran, even if a deal is signed with world powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, the commander of the Iranian ground forces said Sunday.

Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan declared that a rapprochement was out of the question, as the enemy is “exploiting nations and putting them in chains,” the semi-official Iranian FARS News Agency reported.

“The US might arrive at some agreements with us within the framework of the Group 5+1 [the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany], but we should never hold a positive view of the enemy,” Pourdastan said.

“Our enmity with them is over principles and rooted in the fact that we are after the truth and nations’ freedom, but they seek to exploit nations and put them in chains,” he added.

Iranian and P5+1 negotiators are continuing efforts in Vienna to reach an agreement on Iran’s controversial nuclear development program, which world powers fear includes the planned development of atomic weapons. A June 30 deadline passed without a deal, but officials gave themselves another week to ink a pact that would put nuclear weapons beyond Iran’s immediate reach, in return for easing crippling economic sanctions.

Meanwhile, an unnamed senior Iranian official taking part in the nuclear negotiations said Sunday that Iran has not agreed to ship its stockpiles of enriched uranium out of the country and will continue with its atomic program, FARS said.

The official referred to a 32-page technical annex to the nuclear agreement, of which 70 percent has been completed, he said. The annex is one of five addenda to the emerging agreement.

“According to the technical annex, all the nuclear activities of Iran will continue,” the official said. It covers “nuclear research and development, Fordo nuclear enrichment center, Arak heavy water reactor, and the type of the centrifuges that will be used by Iran for the production of stable isotopes,” he said.

The official also rejected earlier reports that Iran would send to Russia its stockpiles of enriched uranium, which can be used to make a nuclear device, and noted that other options are also on the table, FARS reported. Possible alternatives for reducing Iran’s reserves of enriched uranium include exchanging it for raw uranium plus compensation for previous enrichment costs, or selling it off as excess fuel.

One of the participating P5+1 nations has already offered to buy the excess nuclear fuel, the Iranian official claimed, but did not reveal which country had made the offer.

On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that the powers and Iran had drawn up a draft document on the pace and timing of sanctions relief for Iran, advancing on one of the most contentious issues of the negotiations.

Under the mooted accord, building on a framework deal from April, a complex web of sanctions suffocating the Iranian economy will be progressively eased if Tehran massively scales down its nuclear program for at least a decade.

This is aimed at extending the time needed by Iran to produce enough nuclear material for one bomb from several months at present to at least a year.

Coupled with more stringent UN inspections, this will give ample time to stop any such “breakout” attempt, the powers believe, while keeping a modest civilian nuclear program in place in Iran.

However, Iranian leaders have repeatedly asserted that they will not agree to let international monitors freely rifle through their nuclear installations.

Associated Press and AFP contributed to this report.

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