Speaking to reporters during a weekly press conference, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi said: “no formal negotiations can take place between Iran and the P5+1 [the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany] until the president-elect Hassan Rohani is inaugurated.”
Talks over Iran’s controversial nuclear program, which has made the country the target of strict American and Western economic sanctions, would remain dormant “until the president-elect is sworn in and has his cabinet members in place,” Araqchi added.
He highlighted the transition period and the change in the government, and said: “there has not been a scheduled time for the next round of talks. There had been some ideas before, but the two sides did not reach an agreement on that. Both sides are waiting for this transition period to go by, and resume the talks.”
The last round of negotiations between the two sides took place in the Kazakh capital Almaty on April 6, and ended without agreement.
In the same press conference, Araqchi also played down recent revelations of US role in the creation and use of the ‘Stuxnet’ computer virus, which was discovered to have infected equipment in Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010, and inflicted damage on a number of uranium centrifuges.
Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who leaked details of several classified US government mass surveillance programs to the press, said in an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Monday that Israel and the US had created the virus.
“The remarks do not have anything new information and it is obvious that Iran has always been the main target of the US espionage operations. The US officials have repeatedly pointed to this issue,” Araqchi said.
The spokesman also dismissed recent rumours that the resumption of direct flights from Tehran to Washington was imminent, saying: “Such baseless comments are not true.”
In other news, Al-Arab, an Arabic language newspaper based in London, reported on Monday that the government of Saudi Arabia was preparing for an official visit by Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani, following successful consultations between Riyadh and Tehran.
According to the source, Saudi Minister of Interior is in contact with a close aide of Rouhani in order to make preparations for the visit, and that recent moves by Irans to show willingness to improve the relations between the two countries has been welcomed by Riyadh.
Al-Arab reports that Western diplomats informed of the contacts between the two states encouraged Riyadh to develop relations with Tehran to boost the position of moderate factions inside Iran.
The monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, congratulated Rouhani on winning the Iranian presidential elections shortly after his victory. In particular, the king praised recent comments made by Rouhani in which he said was eager to improve relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
In an interview in June with Asharq Al-Awsat, the Iranian president-elect said that he intended to improve Saudi–Iranian relations and establish “mutual respect and mutually beneficial arrangements and cooperation to enhance security and restore stability in the region.”