Another round of talks on Iran’s nuclear problem kicks off in Almaty
The parties to the talks will focus on Tehran’s ongoing effort to enrich uranium.
The western nations are pressing Iran to give up the effort, since uranium, enriched to 20%, could be used by Iran to manufacture a nuclear bomb. But Tehran claims that its programme is exclusively peaceful in character and that it needs uranium as fuel for its research reactor.
Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov urged Iran in the run-up to the talks to cooperate more closely with the international community and voiced hope that the new round of talks would move into the stage of bargaining.
The talks have resumed after an eight-month hiatus and are to last two days. The most recent negotiations between P5+1 and Tehran ran off in June 2012 in Moscow and lasted for two days. This time, the talks can last even longer since diplomats claimed they were intent on going the extra mile.
The Iranian delegation is headed by the country’s National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili, while Russia is represented by Sergei Ryabkov and the US by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. The meeting with also be attended by EU’s High Representative Catherine Ashton.
The world needs to see that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful to discuss any weakening of the sanctions, Russia’s Deputy FM Sergey Ryabkov stated in Kazakhstan’s capital of Almaty Monday in the run-up to the Tuesday Big Six talks with Tehran.
The diplomat urged Tehran to be more cooperative and expressed hope that the talks will result in a deal.
Earlier, a US official claimed that the Big Six will offer Iran a swap – milder sanctions for nuclear concessions.
Voice of Russia, TASS, IF
The window remains open for the Iranian nuclear program to be resolved diplomatically, U.S. White House spokesman Jay Carney said ahead of a regular round of the “5+1” talks between six world powers and Iran, opening in Almaty, Kazakhstan, tomorrow. Most analysts do not expect any breakthroughs, however, considering the latest solid arguments put forward by Tehran to prop up its stance.
On Saturday, a U.S. delegation led by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman left for Almaty where multilateral consultations on the Iranian nuclear issue between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany on one side and Iranian negotiators on the other side, are scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Tensions over Iran resurged late last June after reports that it had increased the number of its uranium enrichment centrifuges by 10% and was planning to install 180 new centrifuges of the IR-2m type in its nuclear plant at Natanz sparked fresh suspicions over Tehran’s nuclear goals. The United States and the European Union responded by introducing new sanctions against Iran, first in August, then in September, and finally, in February.
Tehran is stubbornly refusing to allow international inspectors into its secret nuclear sites. A team of experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency visited Iran earlier this month with the intention of inspecting the Parchin military base to verify allegations that secret military nuclear research might be conducted there, a fact Tehran strongly denied. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made clear Parchin was not part of the nuclear program and therefore was beyond the framework of agreements with the IAEA. At the same time, he said that if the IAEA insisted on inspecting Parchin, Tehran was open to discussion. As on many occasions before, Iran again demonstrated its willingness to cooperate, while taking no concrete moves. Moreover, when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden suggested direct bilateral talks with Tehran, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “no”.
Andrei Baklitsky of the Russian Center for Policy Studies thinks that there may be other than foreign policy reasons behind the Iranian nuclear deadlock:
"President Ahmadinejad’s second term in office expires in half a year. The law prohibits him from running for the third term. What is happening could be an intensifying power struggle. At first Salehi signals the possibility of direct talks with the United States and then the supreme leader rejects it. But as Salehi is Ahmadinejad’s man, the controversy should be viewed through the prism of an internal political standoff rather than as Tehran’s official policy."
Speaking ahead of the Almaty round, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary and chief negotiator Saeed Jalili said that Tehran could only accept proposals that do not contradict its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He urged the West to think of a new approach to talks with Iran.
Earlier, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Vincent Floreani and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle both hinted at some new “sensible” proposals for Tehran. Although their essence has not been disclosed, some analysts say it could be about partial recognition of Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy in exchange for Tehran’s promise to shut a number of nuclear sites and ship its surplus enriched uranium abroad under the IAEA’s control. Others say that Iran has led its negotiating partners into a centrifuge trap on purpose to be able to buy time needed to complete its nuclear projects.