Iran and the 5+1 Powers will renew nuclear discussions in Vienna on February 18.
After days of maneuvers and false-start announcements, both Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the lead negotiator for the 5+1 Powers, the European Union’s Catherine Ashton, confirmed the news on Friday after a meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
The Vienna talks will open discussions on a comprehensive agreement to follow up November’s interim deal. Under that deal, Iran agreed to suspend enrichment of uranium to 20% while the US and its partners began the lifting of some sanctions.
The comprehensive agreement seeks to resolve all matters on a long-term basis, including the status of Iranian facilities such as the Arak heavy-water reactor, due on-line in late 2014.
Reformist Clerics Criticize Supreme Leader
The reformist Association of Combatant Clerics have used a statement for the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution to criticize the Supreme Leader.
The clerics indirectly chided Ayatollah Khamenei through their praise of Ayatollah Khomeini as the first leader of the Islamic Republic, “chosen on the basis of people’s wishes and in a normal procedure”.
The statement added that, “in the eyes of Imam Khomeini, the people and their freedom and welfare were very important”.
The clerics also said the people, having elected Hassan Rouhani as President after great dissatisfaction with the policies of the past eight years, expect the Government to free political prisoners and those under house arrest.
Khomeini’s Grandson Calls for “Political Freedom”
Sayed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, has called for “political freedom” on the eve of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Khomeini said the anniversary is “the chance for the people in charge and the public to think about the reasons why the revolution was formed and why it achieved a victory”.
He continued, “Today while working on the independence of our country from others, we have to work on domestic freedom, especially political freedom.”
Former Mohammed Khatami called in his statement for faster resolutions of current disputes and freedom of political prisoners and those under house arrest, including opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard: “The Islamic Revolution was a revolution against violence and today we should stand against the groups promoting violence.”
And Sayed Hadi Khamenei, the reformist brother of the Supreme Leader, sad that until the house arrest issue is resolved, “people cannot trust the President“.
Revolutionary Guards Dismisses “Direct Relations with America”
The commander of the the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ navy, Ali Fadavi, has said:
The enemies of the Revolution create the false illusion in the minds of our youth that the basis of Iran’s progress is through direct relations with America. But have those who have direct relations with America progressed more than Iran? It is not possible to find a regional or non-regional country that has progressed more in different areas than Iran.
Head of Atomic Energy: IAEA Inspections Going Smoothly
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, has said inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency are going smoothly.
IAEA inspectors visited the Gachin uranium mine this week, part of arrangements agreed with Tehran in November. The six-point plan also includes inspections of the complex at the Arak heavy-water reactor.
Salehi said that Iran has already suspended its uranium enrichment activities beyond 5%, as promised in November’s interim nuclear deal with the 5+1 Powers.