Iranian officials said today it made progress with world powers during "serious" talks over Tehran's nuclear program, but insisted the nation cannot be pushed to give up uranium enrichment as negotiations move into tougher ground. The remarks on enrichment repeat past declarations on the country's "right" to produce nuclear fuel, which is a key element of the talks. But President Hasan Rouhani and his top envoys seek to assure hard-line critics that Iran will not make sweeping concessions, which ended without agreement in Geneva early today and are scheduled to resume next week.
All sides proclaimed progress, and in an important shift, the US and others no longer appear to demand a complete halt to enrichment and are concentrating on curbing the highest-level production, currently at 20%. In an address to parliament, Rouhani said uranium enrichment is a "red line" that cannot be crossed. "Nuclear rights in the international framework, including uranium enrichment, on its soil" are not negotiable, Rouhani was quoted as saying by the semiofficial ISNA news agency. "For us red lines are not crossable." Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu said today he had spoken with the leaders of the US, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, pressing them to not reach a hasty deal. "I asked them to delay and I'm glad they did. I do not fool myself—there will be an agreement. I hope it will (be) a good one." The next round of talks is set for Nov. 20. (Read more Iran stories.)