Incoming top Iran diplomat backs ‘nuclear rights’

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s incoming foreign minister says he will not back down from fighting for Iran’s right to maintain its disputed nuclear program.

Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remarks during a Tuesday confirmation hearing before parliament, expected to approve his appointment later this week.

Zarif said Iran’s diplomatic apparatus under him “will not withdraw one iota” of support for the nation’s ‘nuclear rights,’ but simultaneously boost relations with countries in the region and world. State TV broadcast his speech live.

The comment by Zarif, proposed by Iran’s new President Hasan Rouhani, is partly seen as a move to deflect criticism by hardliners who accuse him of being overly friendly toward the West.

The West suspects Tehran’s nuclear program has a military dimension, a charge Iran denies.

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