Ali Akbar Velayati

The top advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader announced on Tuesday that the nuclear negotiations in Istanbul were a “positive step” and he expressed hope that this “positive approach” will continue.

Ali Akbar Velyati told Iran’s Central News Agency: “This was a positive step by the 5+1 group, and they finally returned to the negotiation table after many months and, in effect, they have reached the conclusion that the Islamic Republic will not accept the language of threats.”

He added: “The Islamic Republic has said on many occasions that when they give up threats and prepare for talks, it is ready to negotiate with them in the framework of international regulations and its given rights.”

He went on to point out that the G5+1 has for the first time acknowledged that Iran has the right to exploit nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, adding that the Islamic Republic has said this from the beginning.

Following the latest round of nuclear talks in Istanbul last Saturday, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, said the West respects Iran’s right to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

The talks were also described as constructive and positive by G5+1 representatives on Saturday. Both sides have agreed to continue talks on March 24 in Baghdad.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has called for some easing of sanctions before the meeting in May; however, U.S. Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton has said there will be no easing of sanctions for the time being.

Iran’s financial institutions and oil industry are currently facing widespread international sanctions, which, according to many reports, have put serious strains on the Iranian economy. Iranian authorities, however, deny the effect of the sanctions.

The West is concerned that Iran’s nuclear program may contain a military component.

Iran’s Supreme Leader has said, however, that building, keeping and using nuclear weapons is “haram” or religiously forbidden.