Iran's lead nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, sees a chance to opena "new era" in ties with Washington and other world powers at talkson Wednesday in Baghdad on its atomic programme, Iranian mediareported. "Since the foundation of these talks is based on cooperation, thenegotiations between the seven nations will cover international,regional and nuclear issues, and we hope this will be a beginningof a new era," Jalili was quoted as telling an Iraqi Shiitepolitical party head, Ammar al-Hakim, in Baghdad late Tuesday. Jalili is to sit down in the Iraqi capital with representatives ofthe United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany(collectively known as the P5+1) for talks on internationalconcerns over Iran's nuclear activities. The Western nations fear the programme includes a drive to developatomic weapons, and they have imposed increasingly harsh sanctionson Tehran to pressure it to suspend its nuclear activities. Iran, though, maintains its nuclear ambitions are exclusivelypeaceful and says it has successfully withstood the sanctions. |
"We sense that the West has realised that the time for using itspressure strategy is over," Jalili was quoted as saying by the Farsand Mehr news agencies. "We hope that the Baghdad negotiations are a starting point for theP5+1 to put away some of their fruitless strategies," he toldHakim. Iran, world powers seek breakthrough in Baghdad Baghdad (AFP) May 23, 2012 - World powers were hoping in crunchtalks in Baghdad on Wednesday to persuade Iran to suspend sensitivenuclear work in order to ease fears that Tehran wants the bomb andabate Middle East tensions. Iran however was expected to press the P5+1 -- the United States,Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- to ease sanctions andaccept its right to a peaceful nuclear programme.
It denies wantingatomic weapons. Iran's lead negotiator Saeed Jalili was quoted by Iranian media assaying he hoped the talks would be the start of a "new era" inrelations. "We sense that the West has realised that the time for using itspressure strategy is over," Jalili was quoted as saying by the Farsand Mehr news agencies. The West fears that a nuclear-armed Iran would destabilise thealready volatile Middle East and sound the death knell for 60 yearsof international efforts to prevent the spread of atomic weapons,sparking a regional arms race. Israel, Washington's closest ally in the region, feels its veryexistence would be under threat and has refused to rule out apre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
US President Barack Obama took office in January 2009 offering aradical change in approach to his predecessor, George W. Bush, indealings with Iran, famously offering an "extended hand" to Tehranif it "unclenched its fist." This failed, however, and Iran has since dramatically expanded itsprogramme, enriching uranium to purities of 20 percent, a levelwithin spitting distance, technically speaking, of the 90 percentneeded for a nuclear weapon. As a result, talk of war has increased and the UN Security Councilhas imposed more sanctions on Iran. Additional US and EUrestrictions targeting Iran's oil sector are due to come into forcefrom July 1.
But now, both sides "have walked up to the abyss and they have bothdecided they don't want to go down it," said Trita Parsi, author ofan acclaimed book about Obama's dealings with Iran called "A SingleRoll of the Dice." Obama, seeking re-election in November against a Republicanchallenger accusing him of dawdling over Iran and keen to see oilprices come down, is impatient for results, while Iran is feelingthe pinch from the sanctions. Oil prices edged lower in Asian trade on Wednesday amid hopes thatthe Baghdad talks would ease tensions. The P5+1 and Iran met in Istanbul in mid-April and managed to findenough common ground to come to Baghdad, with both sides hailingwhat they said was a fresh approach from the other. But the Baghdad meeting will put these renewed efforts to the testas they seek to set the parameters of what will be a lengthy andarduous process of compromise requiring hitherto unseen amounts ofpatience and trust.
One key way for Iran to win the confidence of the P5+1 would be asuspension of 20-percent enrichment, while another would be Iranshipping its stockpiles of enriched uranium abroad. What might also help is Iran implementing the additional protocol(AP) of the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which allows for moreintrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA also wants Iran to address allegations made in itsNovember report that until 2003, and possibly since, Tehran had a"structured programme" of "activities relevant to the developmentof a nuclear explosive device." IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said on Tuesday after talks in Tehran thata deal on ways to go over these accusations with the Iranians wouldbe signed "quite soon." The reaction of Western countries -- and Israel -- was cool,however, with White House spokesman Jay Carney saying Washington"will make judgments about Iran's behaviour based on actions." But Iran will likely be disappointed in Baghdad if it expectssanctions relief in return for any of these moves, with the most itcan hope for being a pledge -- with strings attached -- not toimpose any more, diplomats said. Reports said that in talks in Amman on Tuesday, the P5+1 worked outa detailed proposal to put on the table that would include Iranshipping out uranium in return for fuel for a reactor makingmedical isotopes.
The Financial Times reported that Western powers were prepared tooffer Iran an "oil carrot" that would allow it to continuesupplying crude to Asian customers in exchange for certainguarantees. It is however far from certain that any firm promises will be madeby either side in Baghdad, with one envoy playing down expectationsby saying that even if the talks go well, the results might not be"tangible.".
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