World powers hope soon to agree new round of talks with Iran

BRUSSELS Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:58am IST

A general view of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, some 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran October 26, 2010. REUTERS/IRNA/Mohammad Babaie/Files

A general view of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, some 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran October 26, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/IRNA/Mohammad Babaie/Files

Related Topics

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Big powers hope soon to agree with Iran to hold a new round of nuclear talks in another bid to resolve a protracted dispute over Tehran's atomic programme and avert the increasing threat of a downward spiral into Middle East war.

Iran is seen by the six powers to be covertly trying to develop the means to produce nuclear weapons. They want to rein in the Islamic Republic's uranium enrichment programme, to ensure it is geared only for civilian energy as Iran maintains it is, through a mix of diplomacy and economic sanctions.

They are eager to make progress soon because of Israel's increasingly pointed threats to bomb Iranian nuclear sites. Israel, widely understood to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, views Iran's nuclear drive as a mortal threat.

Senior EU and Iranian diplomats discussed the timing and venue of possible new talks on Wednesday, said a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who oversees contacts with the Islamic Republic on behalf of six countries.

"Deputy Secretary-General Helga Schmid had a telephone call with (the) Iranian deputy nuclear negotiator... in order to discuss the way ahead, including possible dates and venues for a meeting with Iran," he said, referring to a senior member of the EU diplomatic service.

"We hope that agreement with Iran can soon be reached on how to continue the talks and make concrete progress towards addressing international concerns."

Britain, France, Germany, United States, Russia and China are hoping to agree on confidence-building measures as a step towards a final agreement with Iran. Three rounds of negotiations this year produced no breakthrough.

Western diplomats have said a new round could be scheduled as soon as January, but Ashton's spokesman declined to say what dates were discussed in Wednesday's conference call.

PREPARATIONS TAKING PLACE

Last month, senior diplomats from the six countries met in Brussels to prepare a new proposal for talks.

They are particularly concerned about Iran enriching uranium to 20 percent fissile purity, an important technological advance that brings it significantly closer to the threshold of weapons-grade material. They also want Iran to cooperate fully with the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday some politicians in the Islamic Republic were reluctant to resolve the nuclear dispute, apparently referring to hardline conservative rivals in Tehran's factionalised ruling elite.

Experts see Ahmadinejad as sidelined on nuclear policy, and his comments underlined differences between him and supporters of clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The president has been criticised by hardliners within Iran's power structure for saying Tehran was ready for dialogue with the United States on the nuclear programme.

"Our policy is cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA).

"Of course in Iran some do not want the issue to be resolved and think it is better this way," he said, without elaborating.

In Vienna on Wednesday, a senior IAEA official said agency inspectors travelling to Iran would be prepared to go to its disputed Parchin military complex if the Islamic state were to allow a visit during talks in Tehran this week.

The IAEA believes Iran has done explosives tests with possible nuclear applications at Parchin, a facility southeast of the Iranian capital, and has repeatedly asked for access.

(Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati in Dubai and Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; editing by Rex Merrifield and Mark Heinrich)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

IRAQ CRISIS

Reuters Showcase

Gaza Conflict

Gaza Conflict

Gaza truce collapses, fighting erupts, Israel orders negotiators home.  Full Article 

Hiroshima Landslides

Hiroshima Landslides

Landslides hit Japan's Hiroshima, killing at least 27.  Full Article 

Ferry Probe

Ferry Probe

South Korea parties back, families oppose, ferry disaster probe.  Full Article 

Pakistan Turmoil

Pakistan Turmoil

Pakistan crisis puts army back in the driving seat.  Full Article 

Japan Politics

Japan Politics

Japan's polarising PM Abe learns the long game.  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Liberia fights Ebola in capital, W. Africa toll tops 1,200  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage