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Iran’s Khamenei: deterring evil worth talking to Satan

Tehran’s development of a more advanced nuclear centrifuge stymied attempts to make the November nuclear talks successful

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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei admitted on Thursday pursuing the religious deception tactic known as a “taqiyya” in talks with the United States over his country’s nuclear program.

Taqiyya is known as a form of dispensation with religious principles when people are under threat or persecution.

“We had announced previously that on certain issues, if we feel it is expedient, we would negotiate with the Satan to deter its evil,” Khamenei told a gathering in Iran’s theological center of Qom.

“The nuclear talks showed the enmity of America against Iran, Iranians, Islam and Muslims,” he added.

The leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution Ruhollah Khomeini used the expression “the great Satan” to describe the United States.

Ever since the word “Satan” has been frequently by Iranian leaders to described the United States, which they accuse of sponsoring “evil” throughout the world.

Despite blasting the United States in weekly speeches, Khamenei’s regime engaged with Washington last year in direct negotiations that led to a landmark nuclear deal that partially eased economic sanctions crippling the Iranian economy.

Iran and Western powers are expected to resume nuclear talks this year for a comprehensive final agreement amid lingering disputes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed optimism about the talks schedule to resume in Geneva on Thursday.

“The nuclear talks are continuing with seriousness and a strong political will,” wrote Wednesday on his Facebook page, adding that hours of technical talks with experts from the so-called P5+1 group of world powers in December had produced “positive results.”

Zarif’s deputy, Abbas Araqchi, will meet Helga Schmid, deputy to EU foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton whose office represents the P5+1 group of world powers in the decade-long negotiations with Tehran.

Their talks are due to last for two days.

The U.S. State Department confirmed Wednesday that U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman was also travelling to Geneva to attend the talks.

She would meet with both Araqchi and Schmid, the State Department said in a statement, without confirming reports from Iranian news agencies that there would be a three-way meeting.

Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said the talks will focus on remaining issues “pending a political decision” before the deal can go into effect on Jan. 20, a date mooted by both sides.

Centrifuges

According to diplomats, negotiations between Iran and the six powers on implementing the November deal have run into problems over advanced centrifuge research.

Research and development of a new model of advanced nuclear centrifuge that Iran says it has installed is one of the major issues, diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“This issue (centrifuges) was among the main factors in stopping the previous technical discussions on Dec. 19-21,” a Western diplomat said.

Centrifuges are machines that purify uranium for use as fuel in atomic power plants or, if purified to a high level, weapons.

Other Western diplomats confirmed that centrifuges remained a “sticking point” in the talks with Iran but noted that last month’s discussions were understandably adjourned ahead of the December holidays - not because of the centrifuge issue.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration entered 2014 locked in a battle with Congress over whether to plow ahead with new economic sanctions against Iran or cautiously wait to see if last year’s breakthrough nuclear agreement holds.

The Nov. 24 agreement “makes a nuclear Iran more likely,” Senator Marco Rubio told the Associated Press.

Fellow Republican Senator John Cornyn called it an attempt to distract attention from President Barack Obama’s health care rollout.
“We really haven’t gained anything,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.

The deal “falls short of what is necessary for security and stability in the region,” added Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.

(With AFP, Reuters and AP)