Iran says it will not negotiate missile work, wants to export more oil

 Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif landed on Aug 25 for talks during the G-7 summit.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif landed on Aug 25 for talks during the G-7 summit.PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (REUTERS/AFP) - Iran wants to export a minimum of 700,000 barrels per day of its oil and ideally up to 1.5 million bpd if the West wants to negotiate with Teheran to save a 2015 nuclear deal, two Iranian officials and one diplomat told Reuters on Sunday (Aug 25). 

“As a goodwill gesture and a step towards creating space for negotiations, we have responded to France’s proposal. We want to export 700,000 bpd of oil and get paid in cash ... and that is just for a start. It should reach to 1.5 million bpd,” said a senior Iranian official, who asked not to be named. 

A second official said “Iran’s ballistic missile programme cannot and will not be negotiated. We have underlined it clearly and openly.” The officials did not elaborate on the reference to a French proposal.

The French presidency described talks at the G7 summit in Biarritz between French leaders and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as “positive” and said the discussions, which also included Germany and Britain, would continue. 

“The discussions are positive and are ongoing,” an official in President Emmanuel Macron’s office said of the talks, which drew in both Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as well as German and British officials. 

The French official added that the decision to invite Zarif had been taken “in agreement with the United States, in perfect harmony”.

France told its G7 partners of the Iranian foreign minister’s surprise visit for side talks at a summit as soon as it was possible, the French official said, after the White House said the move had surprised US President Donald Trump.

“It was all organised at very short notice,” an Elysee official told Reuters. “It all happened within a small window.

Other countries were informed as soon as possible. It all happened in a matter of hours.” Asked why other countries weren’t told earlier of the surprise visit, the Elysee official said: “They were informed early enough,” adding that the diplomatic situation was too sensitive.

An Iranian diplomat said Iran had also ruled out any negotiations of its “right to enrich uranium, its home-made nuclear fuel cycle ... and in return we will be fully committed to the 2015 nuclear pact.”

Industry sources told Reuters that Iranian oil exports dropped in July to as low as 100,000 bpd due to sanctions imposed on the country by the United States since President Donal Trump exited the 2015 pact last year.

No discussions are planned between Iranian and American officials at this stage, the official said, adding that Zarif’s visit had been finalised on Saturday evening.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani have held a series of phone calls in recent weeks aimed at de-escalating tensions between Teheran and Washington.

The arch-foes have been at loggerheads since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 deal giving Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.