Rouhani: We won’t give our state secrets to foreigners

Iranian president stresses refusal to allow inspection of military sites; says new demands by world powers slow progress to deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran on June 13, 2015. (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran on June 13, 2015. (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)

President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday stressed Iran’s refusal to allow inspectors into suspect military sites, and criticized Western countries which, he said, “haggle” permanently on the terms of a nuclear deal that the sides are trying to conclude by June 30.

“In a meeting, we come to a framework agreement with the other party. But the next time they start to haggle, causing delays in the negotiation,” Rouhani told a press conference on the occasion of the second anniversary of his election.

“If the other party respects the agreed framework and does not add other demands, the differences can be resolved, but if they choose the path of haggling then it can prolong the negotiations,” he added.

Iranian negotiators and those of the P5+1 group (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States) are meeting in Vienna to clinch a deal that would guarantee the strictly peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of the punishing international sanctions.

Rouhani said the talks were “so far a great victory for the Iranian nation.” The major powers have recognized Iran’s right to possess a uranium enrichment program and the enrichment sites in Natanz and Fordo will remain open, he said.

Rouhani repeated Tehran’s objection to allowing international inspectors to visit Iranian military sites, considered a crucial demand by Western powers to ensure the nuclear program does not possess military aspects.

“We will not hand over our state secrets to foreigners,” he stated.

Rouhani noted that there were still “many differences over details” of the deal. “The general framework that the Islamic Republic of Iran wants is accepted by the P5+1 group, but there are still many differences in the details that must be addressed,” he continued.

“We are very serious in the negotiations. We do not seek to gain time, but at the same time we are not captives of time. We are not in a hurry but we try to use every opportunity to reach a good deal,” he added.

On Friday, a senior Russian official said there had been a “very worrying” slowdown of progress in the talks.

“This is very worrying to us, because there is very little time before the deadline and we urgently need to enter the final stage,” said chief Moscow negotiator Sergei Ryabkov.

The Iranian president said that “several months will pass” between the signing of the agreement until its implementation.

“We are currently discussing it,” said Rouhani, when asked about the timing of the lifting of international sanctions.

A UN Security Council resolution to cancel previous resolutions on nuclear matters “will be the first major step and a guarantee for the implementation of the agreement,” he stated.

“Then it will take several months to implement all the commitments,” he added, referring to the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States.

These sanctions, implemented in 2012, targeted the oil and financial sectors of Iran and plunged the country into a deep economic crisis.

An Iranian security official said Saturday that Iranian officials with access to classified information will be forbidden from using smartphones in connection with their work, because of fears of espionage.

Such phones are not secure, as “data entered on to them is backed up, cannot be removed and can be accessed,” Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali told ISNA news agency, alluding to smartphone applications and manufacturers.

Jalali, head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization, said the new rule, which is pending final approval, would mean officials “should use other phones for work that involves sensitive information.”

The restrictions come after reports that nuclear talks between Iran and world powers were compromised by cyber hacking.

Swiss and Austrian authorities said Thursday they had opened separate probes into alleged spying in venues where the nuclear negotiations are taking place.

Iran has called on both governments to help secure venues for future talks.

Iran has pointed the finger at Israel, which strongly opposes the emerging nuclear deal because it says the agreement does not go far enough to dismantle Tehran’s atomic program, but Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely denied its secret services were involved.

Iran is sensitive to cyber threats as its nuclear program was hit in 2010 by Stuxnet, a cyber virus that ravaged its Natanz atomic facility, an attack Tehran blamed on Israel and the United States.

Russian-based security firm Kaspersky said Wednesday the malware dubbed Duqu, which is a sophisticated spy tool that was believed to have been eradicated in 2012, appeared to have been used to spy on nuclear negotiations with Iran.

The virus allows the hacker to eavesdrop on conversations and steal electronic files, and could also enable the hacker to operate two-way microphones in hotel elevators, computers and alarm systems, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Recent talks in Geneva held at the luxury Intercontinental Hotel have so far failed to bridge differences between Washington and Tehran, especially over the crucial issue of inspections of military sites.

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