Six world powers 'make Iran nuclear proposal'

Catherine Ashton and Saeed Jalili, Baghdad, 23 May 2012 EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is hoping for progress in talks with Iran's negotiator Saeed Jalili

Six world powers have put forward a detailed proposal aimed at curbing Iran's uranium enrichment programme.

The proposal from the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany included confidence-building measures, said the US state department.

The talks are being held in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, at Iran's request.

They come a day after the UN's nuclear watchdog held talks with Iran to try to gain better access to the regime's nuclear installations.

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said any efforts by Western powers to put pressure on Iran at the talks would be "futile".

But he told a news conference in Tehran on Wednesday that there were reasons to be optimistic about the negotiations.

"The ideas fielded to us speak of the fact that the other side would like to make Baghdad a success," he said. "We hope that in a day or two we can bring good news."

Tight security

The US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany are seeking to persuade Iranian officials to scale back their nuclear programme.


These talks mark a strange reunion - for eight years in the 1980s, Iran fought against Iraq. Then, in 2003, America and Britain led the invasion of Iraq.

US soldiers once fought their way to Baghdad because of suspicions of weapons of mass destruction.

Now, US diplomats come back to the same country to talk about the same subject. This time the country in question is Iran, not Iraq.

No-one expects a breakthrough at this round of talks. Nor do they expect a breakdown either.

A US state department spokeswoman said confidence-building measures would "pave the way for Iran to demonstrate that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes".

"This approach would also include step-by-step reciprocal steps aimed at near-term action on our part if Iran takes its own steps," she added, without giving specific details.

The talks are expected to continue into a second day, an unnamed Iranian official told AFP news agency.

He said Tehran had put forward "a package with five items based on the principles of step-by-step and reciprocity".

Tehran insists its uranium enrichment programme is for peaceful purposes, but the West fears Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

Security is tight at the talks, with about 15,000 Iraqi police and troops protecting the venue inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Previous talks in Istanbul in April managed to find enough common ground to arrange a further meeting in Baghdad.

Correspondents say Wednesday's talks will put these renewed efforts to the test.

Iran's former nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian: ''Iran is not after a nuclear weapon''

Analysts say the main goal of the six powers will probably be an Iranian agreement to shut down the higher-grade uranium enrichment programme that it launched in 2010.

Iran has since expanded the enrichment process at an underground plant at Fordo, outside the northern city of Qom.

On Tuesday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said an agreement with Iran over nuclear inspections was expected "quite soon" following his recent talks in Tehran.

The IAEA wants its inspectors to have greater access to Iranian sites, nuclear scientists and documents.

The EU, the US and the UN have all imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    Let's all hope that this conference succeeds. I'm sick and tired of all this warmongering. If South Africa can reach an agreement with the U.N. to have nuclear energy but not to build weapons, then why on earth can't Iran or North Korea for that matter reach a similar agreement? There's absolutely no need for another useless war!

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    When I hear the word 'nuclear' it sends a chill down my spine. Essentially, we are talking about the lives of millions of people and the destruction of Earth.

    I find it absolutely disturbing that politicians are able to discuss it so casually, often using nuclear threats as a tool to develop foreign policy.

    I think we can all agree that in an ideal word no country would have nuclear capability.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    I think Iran are entitled to full reparations as part of these negotiations. They are being asked to tear down a legitimate industry they have developed over the last decade over the paranoia of foreign powers. The cost incurred from the sanctions and the cost from any new provisions required for them to continue should be shouldered by us. They have done nothing wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    How can countries that possess nuclear weapons (and historically have used them) lecture emerging countries on the concept of not developing them? I'll support a war against Iran when all countries make an agreement to rid the world of them. We have no moral authority in this unless we set an example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Are the six world powers going to talk "with" the Iranians or "at" them?

    Is there any real desire to come up with a peaceful solution or will it be
    "You will do this, or else!"
    "No we won't, and if you try to force us you'll be sorry!"

    I suspect more of the same old...


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