World powers seeking to resolve a decade-long dispute over Iran’s nuclear program have resumed talks with Iranian officials in the Kazakh city of Almaty.
In what is the second such meeting this year, the six powers – the so-called P5+1, the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany – hope Iran will accept their offer of modest relief from economic sanctions in return for curbs in its most sensitive nuclear work.
“The plenary session just began this morning,” a Western official said on Friday.
For years, Iran has refused to meet international demands for it to stop enriching uranium, arguing it does so only for peaceful purposes such as medical research and generation of energy.
Western governments suspect Iran’s nuclear aims will give Tehran the capability to build the atom bomb.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator pronounced the last get-together at the same venue in February “positive” but said the global powers had to quickly agree to its most important demand in the decade-old dispute.
“We think that they can open up tomorrow’s [Friday’s] talks with one phrase, and that is to accept Iran’s right, particularly its right to enrich,” Saeed Jalili said in a speech at an Almaty university ahead of the negotiations.
UN chief’s appeal
Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, said it would be on the Iranian side to prove that its “nuclear development programme is for peaceful purposes”.
“I sincerely hope that through this P5+1 negotiation there will be very meaningful progress,” he said in Madrid.
The world powers are hoping for an answer from Iran on a package of proposals aimed at defusing the standoff, offering an easing of punishing economic sanctions if it makes concessions on its enrichment.
The P5+1 is particularly concerned about Iran’s enrichment to levels of up to 20 percent and wants it to shut the Fordo 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, Iran has reportedly been offered the right to deal in some precious metals and perform small financial transactions now prohibited by international sanctions.
Iran, which denies it is developing the atomic bomb and argues that it needs its nuclear programme for peaceful medical and energy needs, has already described this approach as unbalanced.
Source: AL JAZEERA