Envoys at talks on Iran's nuke program reach some agreements on incentives

China's assistant FM says 6 countries agree to continue diplomatic efforts; US State Department: More work needed for nations to reach consensus.

Iran 6-way talks 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Iran 6-way talks 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Talks on incentives aimed at persuading Iran to stop its nuclear program ended with no clear result Wednesday night, though the meeting's chairman said diplomatic efforts would continue. The five permanent UN Security Council members as well as Germany and the European Union "reached agreements on some major parts" during the closed-door meeting, said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei, who hosted the session. He did not give details of the talks. The envoys discussed proposed political, security and economic incentives designed to coax Teheran into stopping a uranium enrichment program that the US and many other countries fear could produce weapons material. "On the whole, the six countries agreed to continue diplomatic efforts," he said. He gave no details on what might have held up a full agreement. Iran was not invited to participate in the talks, which featured the EU and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - the six countries that have led efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions. In Washington, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the session a "good meeting" about incentives but said more work was needed for the six nations to reach consensus. "They had some good discussions but the bottom line is they are going to have to continue discussions on it," McCormack told reporters. He said any incentives must be accompanied by Iranian compliance with demands to suspend its uranium reprocessing and enrichment. Iran insists its program is only meant to produce energy and has refused to suspend it despite three rounds of Security Council sanctions. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said his country was installing thousands of new uranium-enriching centrifuges. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the claim could not be immediately verified. Iran has about 3,000 centrifuges operating at an underground facility. That is the commonly accepted figure for a nuclear enrichment program that is past the experimental stage and can be used for a program to produce material for dozens of nuclear weapons. Iran has said it plans to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment that will ultimately involve 54,000 centrifuges. Teheran has brushed off international concern, pointing to a February report by the International Atomic Energy Agency that said all major past issues surrounding Iran's nuclear activities had been resolved or are "no longer outstanding at this stage." A top Iranian official, however, abruptly canceled a Monday meeting with the head of the IAEA, an agency official said.