Iran and world powers set more nuke talks for June

Ashton announces next meeting to take place in Moscow, in effort to solve dispute over Iranian nuclear program; says "we will maintain intensive contacts with our Iranian counterparts."

May 24, 2012 20:37
1 minute read.
Catherine Ashton, Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili

Catherine Ashton, Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili 370 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani)

BAGHDAD - Iran and world powers will meet in Moscow on June 18-19 for more talks to try solve a long-standing dispute about an Iranian nuclear energy program, European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Thursday.

Speaking after two days of discussions between envoys from Iran and six leading powers to try to defuse Western fears of a covert Iranian effort to develop nuclear bombs, Ashton said it was clear both sides wanted progress and had some common ground but they also had significant differences.

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"We will maintain intensive contacts with our Iranian counterparts to prepare a further meeting in Moscow," she told a news conference in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the venue for the latest meeting.

Ashton, who leads the negotiations for the six-country group known as the P5+1, said the global powers wanted practical steps from Iran to address concerns over its nuclear work.

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Chief among such concerns is Iran's ability to enrich uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent.

That is the nuclear advance most worrying to the West since it hurdles technical obstacles to reaching 90 percent, or bomb-grade, enrichment. Iran says it will not exceed 20 percent and the material will be made into fuel for a research reactor.

"Iran declared its readiness to address the issue of 20 percent enrichment and came with its own five point plan, including their assertion that we recognize their right to enrichment," Ashton added.

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