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We’ll continue enriching, won’t shut nuclear sites, Iran lawmaker says

Parliamentarian says closure of nuclear facilities is ‘not on the agenda’; opposition group says Tehran building new underground facility

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

British Foreign Secretary William Hague (left), Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif (second left), Germany's FM Guido Westerwelle, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton (right), gather for the third day of closed-door nuclear talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, November 9, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Jason Reed/Pool)
British Foreign Secretary William Hague (left), Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif (second left), Germany's FM Guido Westerwelle, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton (right), gather for the third day of closed-door nuclear talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, November 9, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Jason Reed/Pool)

Iran will not stop enriching uranium, nor will it shut down two nuclear sites in Fordo and Arak as part of a deal with world powers, an Iranian parliament member said on Monday, as an Iranian opposition group claimed Iran was constructing a secret underground nuclear site.

Speaking to Iran’s Arabic-language news station Al-Alam, Mohammad Hassan Asfari, a member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Affairs committee, reported on a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at Iran’s foreign ministry Sunday evening. Zarif updated the parliamentarians on the recent round of talks in Geneva and on Iran’s strategy for the upcoming round set to commence in Geneva this Wednesday.

According to Asfari, Iran’s halting of uranium enrichment and the closure of the nuclear plant in Fordo and the heavy water reactor in Arak are “not on the agenda of either side.” Iran, Asfari was told in the meeting, would negotiate based on “Iran’s pride.”

Stopping uranium enrichment, removing fissile material from Iranian territory, and halting activity at the heavy water reactor in Arak are among the conditions Israel has urged for a deal with Iran. Trying to convince American legislators to forestall a new set of sanctions on Iran, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that any deal with Iran would be “failsafe” in assuaging Israel’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

Reports indicate that the six world powers negotiating with Iran will condition a deal on keeping the Arak reactor shut.

Asfari said that “the level of enrichment is also important to us,” a possible indication that Iran would not agree to halt enrichment to a level of 20 percent, a key international demand.

Meanwhile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group based in Paris, told reporters on Monday that Iran has recently completed work on a new clandestine underground facility near the town of Mobarekeh, adjacent to the Isfahan-Shiraz highway.

Mehdi Abrichamtchi, a spokesman for NCRI, which exposed the secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Arak, said the new facility — located within a tunnel complex in a mountainous area — was inside the Haft-e Tir military industrial complex and managed by Iran’s Organisation of Defensive Innovation and Research.

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