Talks in Baghdad between Iran and the six world powers on the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program ended without any agreement on Wednesday, and are now set to continue for a previously unscheduled second day on Thursday.
It is understood that the talks reached a deadlock on Wednesday after Iran rejected proposals put forward by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany for persuading Teheran to roll back on its uranium enrichment work.
The P5+1 nations reportedly offered to supply medical isotopes and provide co-operation on nuclear safety to Iran if it halted its 20% uranium enrichment program. Nevertheless, Iran is said to have rejected the offer, insisting that uranium enrichment is the Islamic Republic's non-negotiable right.
Iranian media reported without providing details that Teheran's representatives to the talks also presented their own five-point package of proposals on "nuclear and non-nuclear issues" to the other participating nations.
The ongoing talks in Baghdad are not expected to lead in an immediate breakthrough. But they are aimed at achieving some progress that could be advanced further in a step-by-step manner through future negotiations.
The P5+1 group of nations want Iran to halt enriching uranium to the 20% level, which can be used for making nuclear weapons, and allow UN nuclear inspectors to verify the so-claimed peaceful intentions of the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program.
The offer put forward by the P5+1 nations on Wednesday reportedly combined new and old proposals aimed at persuading Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program in exchange for concessions. Iran's participation in the talks is for convincing the P5+1 nations to lift their individual as well as UN sanctions currently imposed on Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.
Iran had earlier held a round of negotiations with the six world powers, namely the U.S., UK, France, Russia, Germany and China, in the Turkish city of Istanbul in April. During those talks, the participants agreed to tackle the issue through step-by-step negotiations and by responding to the progress made by initiating reciprocity actions.
Iran insists that its nuclear activity is intended for peaceful civilian purposes, but the West suspects the claim to be a cover up for the country's nuclear weapon ambitions. Nevertheless, Tehran argues that 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 IAEA.
Iran has already survived four sets of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council following its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Analysts believe that Russia and China, both allies of Iran, are unlikely to support further U.N. sanctions against Tehran over the issue.
However, the United States and its allies, including Britain and Canada, imposed separate sanctions on Iran after a report released by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in November cautioned that Iran may be planning to develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. sanctions include those signed into law by President Barack Obama in December with the intention of crippling Iran's oil revenue, the main source of finance for the nuclear program.
The sanctions authorize the U.S. administration 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.
Also, the EU has 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.
by RTT Staff Writer
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