BAGHDAD - Iran's insistence that world powers acknowledge what it sees as its right to enrich uranium
emerged as a significant difference in international talks on its
nuclear energy program this week, a senior US administration official
Speaking after two days of discussions between Iran and six
world powers aimed at trying to defuse fears of a covert Iranian effort
to develop nuclear bombs, the official added that looming additional
sanctions were likely to raise pressure on Iran to seek an agreement
ahead of a further round of talks in mid-June.
difficult talks ... obviously we were far apart (at the start)," said
the official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of
The official said a "significant difference" at the meeting was Iran's insistence that its right to enrich be recognized.
(that) was not something we were prepared to do," the official said,
echoing the US view that Iran does not automatically have this right
under international law because, it argues, Iran is in violation of its
obligations under counter-proliferation safeguards.
Work would continue at the next round of talks
set for Moscow on June 18-19, towards a deal for a suspension of
enrichment of uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent, the official
That is the nuclear advance most worrying to the West since
it clears 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.
"We never expected to get that agreement (on 20 percent) here in Baghdad," the official said.
"There is agreement to address all aspects of 20 percent as we put it on the table."
official said the six powers were going to try to advance the talks "as
fast as we can." But it was too early to talk about technical level or
expert meetings because the political issues still needed to be
The official said sanctions coming into effect in coming weeks would increase leverage on Iran in the negotiations.
pressure is not yet being felt by Iran," the official said, adding
there were many other potential sanctions that remained to be employed.
wants any nuclear deal to spare it from an EU embargo on its oil
exports to be phased in fully by July 1. It also wants an end to trade
and diplomatic sanctions imposed since 2006.