Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili me
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili meAFP photo

Iran's tactics in talks on its nuclear program with the major powers have been "flawed" under the current negotiating team led by Saeed Jalili, presidential election candidate Ali Akbar Velayati said on Friday, according to the AFP news agency.

"The current negotiations that are under way are definitely flawed," said Velayati, a conservative former foreign minister who is standing against Jalili in the June 14 election.

Velayati served as Iran's top diplomat for 16 years before being appointed an adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on nuclear policy.

Jalili is also close to Khamenei and has been known for his tough negotiation stance in Iran's atomic talks with world powers. Analysts have said that Jalili is a top contender for the position.

Jalili recently pledged to “resist” western demands regarding his country’s nuclear program if he is elected.

“My understanding is that the more we rely on our religious and internal principles, the more we can create the capacity to pursue the path of progress and the more we can resist [pressure from outside opponents of the regime],” Jalili told the Financial Times last month.

“What matters today is to defend the rights of the Iranian nation in various areas that should not be violated by others. The more we defend these rights, the more progress we can make,” he added.

Jalili has headed the Iranian delegations during diplomatic efforts between Iran and six major powers -- the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, known collectively as the P5+1.

The sides have held several rounds of negotiations, each of which has ended without results.

The P5+1 is particularly concerned about Iran's enrichment to levels of up to 20 percent and wants it to shut the Fordow fortified bunker where the sensitive activity is conducted. The group also wants Iran to ship out its existing stockpile of 20-percent enriched material.

In return, Tehran has reportedly been offered the right to deal in some precious metals and perform small financial transactions now prohibited by international sanctions.

A total of 686 candidates had signed up to run for the presidency and succeed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cannot run for a third consecutive term.

Eight candidates won approval to stand, including five conservatives close to Khamenei, as well as two moderate conservatives and a reformist.

Iran's moderate ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and a former government official, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie who is close to Ahmadinejad, have been barred from running in the election.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)