Natanz nuclear facility_311 reuters.
(photo credit: STR New / Reuters)
TEHRAN - Iran welcomed on Tuesday a Russian attempt to revive talks with six world powers that are concerned about the its uranium enrichment program, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, but was vague about what the agenda should be.
"We have not received a complete and official plan offered by Russia for Iran's nuclear issue," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was cited as saying by the ISNA news agency.
After meeting Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, his Iranian counterpart said a proposal by Moscow, details of which have not been made public, could be used to re-launch the talks that stalled in January.RELATED
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"Our Russian friends' suggestion could be a basis for starting talks for regional and international cooperation especially in the field of peaceful nuclear activities," Saeed Jalili, secretary general of Iran's National Security Council, told state broadcaster IRIB.
Jalili's general remarks gave no indication Iran was now prepared, unlike previously, to address what the powers see as the crucial concern -- its uranium enrichment drive, which UN inspectors say Iran has not proven is for peaceful energy only.
Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security
Council, the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, plus
Germany (known as the EU3+3 or P5+1), in Istanbul in January foundered
with Iran insisting on having what it says is its right to produce
nuclear fuel recognized.
Since then, Iran has vowed to increase its enrichment activities and
shift its production of higher grade fuel to an underground bunker that
would be less vulnerable to a military strike.
With Israel and Washington keeping open the possibility of pre-emptive
strikes on Iran to stop it getting nuclear weapons, negotiations are a
possible way of avoiding what analysts say would be military action that
could inflame the Middle East.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US President Barack Obama in
July of Moscow's "step-by-step" approach under which Iran could address
questions about its nuclear program and be rewarded with a gradual
easing of sanctions.
"We and the six countries as seven countries can create the grounds for cooperation through this strategy," Jalili said.
While Iran plays down the "nuclear" aspect of talks, saying the
negotiations are meant to cover a wide range of issues, the Western
focus has always been Iran's atomic activities.
Iran says they are intended only to run a future network of civilian
nuclear power plants as another source of energy for its burgeoning
population so it can export more oil, and for medical and agricultural
Many countries fear Iran is secretly bent on developing nuclear weapons
capability, pointing to its past concealment of sensitive nuclear work
and continued curbs on access for International Atomic Energy Agency
Any new talks are likely to focus on concerns about Iran's nuclear
enrichment which a UN Security Council resolution requires it to stop
but which Tehran says it is entitled to do as a member of the nuclear
But its decision last year to raise the level of enrichment from the 3.5
percent fissile purity needed for normal power plant fuel to 20 percent
worried countries that saw it as a notable step towards the 90 percent
threshold needed for bombs.
The United States has cautiously welcomed Russia's overture to Iran, but
says it will continue a "dual approach" of sanctions pressure and the
possibility of talks. "We welcome any Russian effort to persuade Iran
that it's time to change course and meet its international obligations,"
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday.