US: Iran must take steps to curb 20% uranium enrichment

Central Asian bloc including Russia, China issue statement warning against use of force to solve Iranian problem; Russia's Putin to Ahmadinejad: Iran has right to peaceful nuclear energy.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Brazil 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino )
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Brazil 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino )
Major powers want Iran to come to nuclear talks ready to take steps to curb its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, a level that brings it closer to developing bomb grade material, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday.
"We want them to come prepared to take concrete steps, particularly in the area of 20 enrichment," Clinton told reporters, referring to a meeting on Iran's nuclear program to be held on June 18-19 in Moscow.
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 powers are due to resume in Moscow on June 18, almost a month after the last round in Baghdad.
Earlier in the day, leaders of a bloc grouping China, Russia and Central Asian states called for dialogue over Iran's nuclear program.
In a statement issued by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), made up of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the group stated that "any attempts to solve the Iranian problem by force are not acceptable and lead to unpredictable consequences, threatening stability and security in the region and in the world as a whole." Iran, together with India and Pakistan, attends SCO summits, but not as a full member.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking on the sidelines of the conference, told his Iranian counterpart President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he supports a peaceful Iranian drive for nuclear energy. "We have always supported the right of the Iranian people to modern technologies, including the peaceful use of atomic energy," AFP quoted Putin as saying.
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday that China opposed any Middle East country acquiring nuclear weapons, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Western countries have been avoiding any explicit recognition of an Iranian right to nuclear power, saying Tehran had no automatic right to enrich uranium because of its previous violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.Iran maintains that under its membership of the NPT, it can develop a full nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes including the preparation and enrichment of uranium.