Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said Thursday his country is willing to discuss its disputed nuclear program during an upcoming meeting and expressed hopes the talks would yield a positive outcome.
The P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) talks with Iran will take place in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday and will build on several previously unsuccessful sessions. The United States, France, Russia, China, Britain, Germany, and Iran will all send high level envoys to the meeting.
"Iranian representatives will attend the talks with new initiatives. We are ready to hold successful and progressive talks on cooperation." Jalili was quoted as saying by state TV and Iranian official IRNA news agency.
Without elaborating on the details of the initiatives he plans to bring, Jalili said he hoped the West would also "enter the talks with constructive attitude."
Although Iran insists its nuclear activity is intended for peaceful civilian purposes, the West suspects the claim to be a cover up for the Islamic Republic's nuclear weapons ambitions. Tehran insists it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as it is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran has already survived four sets of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council following its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Since the last round of UN sanctions on Iran, the P5+1 powers have held two rounds of talks with that country - in Geneva in December 2010 and in Istanbul in January 2011. Both negotiations failed to reach any agreements on the issue.
Analysts believe Russia and China, both allies of Iran, are unlikely to support further U.N. sanctions against Tehran over the issue. Nevertheless, the United States and its allies, including Britain, Canada and the European Union, imposed separate sanctions on Iran after an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report in November stated that Iran may be planning to develop nuclear weapons.
Those sanctions were aimed at persuading Teheran to rejoin the stalled international negotiations on its disputed nuclear program. The US sanctions include those signed into law by President Barack Obama in December with the intention of crippling the Islamic Republic's oil revenue, the main source of finance for the nuclear program.
The sanctions authorize the U.S. to bar foreign financial institutions that engage in financial transactions with Iran's central bank and oil sector, making it difficult for Tehran to sell its crude oil in the international market. The U.S. had earlier banned its banks from doing business with the Iranian central bank.
Further, the EU barred member-states from importing, purchasing and transporting Iranian crude oil and petroleum products from July 1. The 27-member bloc also froze the assets of the Iranian central bank within the EU, while ensuring legitimate trade would continue under strict conditions. Iran has since halted oil sales to several EU nations, including Britain, France and Germany.
Under such immense international pressure, Iran agreed last month to rejoin the nuclear negotiations with the six world powers. Tehran said it was ready to resume the talks if they are based on common grounds without compromising any of the Islamic Republic's nuclear rights.
Further, Iran's nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, indicated on Sunday his country was prepared to scale back on its uranium enrichment program without abandoning the ability to make nuclear fuel.
Abbasi said Tehran was willing to gradually halt its production of the 20 percent enriched uranium needed as fuel for a medical research reactor. Nevertheless, he added the Islamic Republic would continue to enrich uranium to lower levels of about 3.5 percent for power generation purposes.
by RTT Staff Writer
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