TEHRAN – Iran's top diplomat warned Western governments against resorting to threats and violence to force it to make nuclear concessions, an indication of how far apart the two sides of the negotiations still are just weeks before a key deadline. "As we approach July 20, I feel compelled to warn again that pursuing a game of chicken in an attempt to extract last-minute concessions cannot achieve anything better than what it achieved in 2005," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in statement released on YouTube, referring to previous failed talks that pushed the country close to war and resulted in bruising international sanctions. "Sanctions did not cripple our nuclear program. Neither did the murder of our nuclear scientists, the sabotage of our nuclear facilities - with potentially disastrous environmental ramifications - or the repeated military threats," he added.
A new round of negotiations was scheduled to resume in Vienna on Wednesday. One of the main sticking points between and six big powers is the issue of uranium-enriching centrifuges. While insisting its program is for civilian purposes, Iran maintains it needs tens of thousands of centrifuges. Meanwhile, negotiators for Russia, the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany say the number should be in the low thousands.
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