Iran expects continued ‘constructive’ nuclear talks

Tehran "very serious" about renewed talks with IAEA and P5+1, but Gaza crisis delaying possibility, expert tells 'Post'.

Uranium-processing site in Isfahan 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Uranium-processing site in Isfahan 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
Tehran expects nuclear talks with global powers to continue “in a constructive manner,” Iran’s ambassador to Russia said Monday.
Ambassador Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi said that Iran was “looking forward to a constructive attitude from the P5+1 [permanent UN Security Council members China, France, Russia, UK, US plus Germany],” according to Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency.
Sajjadi said that Tehran hoped reelected US President Barack Obama would help “change the conduct of the United States as regards Iran and choose a more logical approach.”
“We hope that Obama will stick to the promises he made regarding the Iranian [nuclear] issue during his first term,” Sajjadi told reporters at a press conference.
The P5+1 powers are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss negotiating strategy.
Last week, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov urged the resumption of nuclear talks.
Riabkov made his comments during a meeting with Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Tehran, and said that the talks could also include a recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
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Three rounds of talks since April have failed to resolve the long dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which Western powers and Israel say is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability.
The last round of talks in June ended in deadlock.
Some analysts say that the current crisis in Gaza may hamper future nuclear talks, however.
Scott Lucas, an expert on Iran from Birmingham University in the UK and founder of the EAWorldview site, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that Iranian regime were “very serious about renewed talks on the nuclear program –- with the International Atomic Energy Agency and with the 5+1 Powers.”
“But the Gaza crisis has put a hold on the possibility,” he said.
The latest developments regarding nuclear talks come days after the IAEA released its latest quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear program; and weeks before Iran is set to resume discussions with the IAEA December 13 regarding the inspection of its nuclear facilities.
The IAEA report found that Iran has installed additional centrifuges at its Fordow underground enrichment complex – although the total number of centrifuges in operation has not increased – and at its Natanz complex, both of which facilities are regularly inspected by the IAEA.
According to the Arms Control Association’s summary of the report, the IAEA said Iran has continued to enrich uranium to the 20 percent level, producing 232 kilograms of enriched material, of which 96 kg. has been either converted or earmarked for conversion, ostensibly to produce fuel plates for its Tehran Research Reactor.
Iran’s overall stockpile of 20% enriched uranium has increased slightly by 43 kg.
Overall, ACA said the IAEA report “provides further troubling evidence that Iran is continuing to pursue sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle activities in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and is slowly enhancing its nuclear weapons breakout potential.” It added however that Tehran is “years, not months” away from a working nuclear arsenal.
In the weeks before the IAEA released its latest report, and particularly after Obama’s reelection, Iran has given what appear to have been mixed messages regarding its willingness to continue with nuclear talks – including whether it would be willing to conduct direct negotiations with Washington.
Some senior conservative figures, such as the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani have expressed cautious optimism about talks with the US.
Earlier this month Larijani said he did not rule out direct talks with the US over the nuclear issue, but warned that Iran’s relations with Washington were “not simple.”
Meanwhile military and IRGC leaders have continued to issue threats and warnings, particularly after the US announced that Iranian fighter jets had shot at a US drone in the Persian Gulf.
The mixed messages could indicate divisions within the regime, although they may also reflect a more pragmatic strategy to reach out for talks that will include discussion of Iran’s right to enrich, while maintaining a tough military stance.
A report published on Iran’s Intelligence Ministry’s new website this month which suggests that Tehran may be open to direct nuclear talks with the US, may offer some insights into Iran’s position.
The report, titled “Reasons and Barriers to the Zionist Regime’s Military Strike on Iran,” says that the US has a “completely different perspective” to Israel regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
The report does not indicate that Iran expects any diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis to involve a discussion about ending its enrichment program.
However, it claims that “some analysts” in the US believe that Tehran’s attaining nuclear technology could help restore peace to the region.