The latest meetings between Iran and the six major world powers to discuss Tehran’s controversial nuclear program ended without a deal, but with a new proposal for mutual confidence-building measures. The top Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, was quoted by the Fars News Agency as saying the latest offer from the P5+1—the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany—is “closer” to Iran’s position.
While choosing not to discuss specifics of the proposals nor comment in detail regarding Jalili’s claim about drawing closer to the Iranian stance, a European diplomat told The Mideast Update that the P5+1 has presented a “revised proposal” with a “positive response from Iran.” The sides are set to meet again at an expert level in March and at the political level in April. The European diplomat called the latest talks with Iran “useful.”
Fars quoted Jalili as saying the P5+1 suggested “some tangible steps” should be undertaken as confidence-building moves in the next six months.
“Certain points in this response were more realistic compared to the past and effort has been made to come closer to Iran’s viewpoints,” Jalili was quoted as saying. “…We assume the talks as a positive step which can be completed with a constructive approach and reciprocal steps.”
In a separate report from Fars, Jalili denied the world powers had demanded Iran close its controversial underground nuclear enrichment facility— Fordo—which has heightened worries that Iran has covert nuclear intentions.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton gave a general overview of the proposals made to Iran in a statement from her office. She said the P5+1 “has tabled a revised proposal, which we believe is balanced and a fair basis for constructive talks. The offer addresses international concerns on the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program, but is also responsive to Iranian ideas.”
Iran is under a range of sanctions, including a European oil embargo, over it’s nuclear program. The international community has long expressed concerns about Iran’s nuclear research and enrichment efforts. There remain unanswered questions regarding Iran’s research into nuclear weapons.
In addition, Iran has made progress towards enriching mid-level nuclear fuel it claims is for medical research, but is also well on the way towards enriching uranium to weapons-grade. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned last year Iran could reach a “redline” on its mid-level enrichment by this summer, at which point Iran could build a nuclear weapon in mere months.
The P5+1 and Iran have now held four meetings with Iran in the last year over the nuclear issue. So far, no breakthrough agreement has been reached.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 27, 2013)