Iran sees 'opening' on nuclear diplomacy: official

DUBAI Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:06am EDT

Iran's former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi reacts upon his arrival to attend the official opening ceremony for the new headquarters of the Iranian embassy in Amman, May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Majed Jaber

Iran's former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi reacts upon his arrival to attend the official opening ceremony for the new headquarters of the Iranian embassy in Amman, May 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Majed Jaber

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DUBAI (Reuters) - An Iranian official said on Wednesday that he saw an "opening" in Iran's nuclear dispute with the West, a news agency reported, in the latest signal that Tehran expects fresh movement to break a decade-old deadlock.

The United States and its allies believe Iran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and have imposed sanctions aimed at stopping it. Iran denies it wants a bomb and says its nuclear energy program has peaceful aims.

Iran and world powers have been engaged in negotiations which have so far failed to resolve the dispute. The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said he expected there could be a breakthrough in the talks by the end of the current Iranian calendar year, 1392, which ends in March 2014.

"This year, in the coming months, we will witness openings in this issue...We expect that in the coming months we will see the start of the process of exiting the nuclear issue," Salehi said, according to the Mehr news agency.

The election in June of centrist cleric Hassan Rouhani as president has raised expectations of a settlement to the nuclear dispute. Rouhani has called for "constructive interaction" with the world and more moderate policies at home and abroad.

Salehi, who served as foreign minister under Rouhani's predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the groundwork for a breakthrough in talks was laid during Ahmadinejad's administration.

"With the information that we had seven or eight months ago, and the indications we saw, we were certain that 1392 would be a very good year especially on Iran's nuclear issue, and today as well we see indications to that effect," Salehi said, according to Mehr.

His comments came a day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the ultimate say on nuclear policy, said he was open to "flexibility" when it came to diplomacy.

Salehi also said he doubted news reports that Rouhani had offered to shut Fordow, an underground uranium enrichment facility near the religious city of Qom.

"I think it is unlikely that such a thing has been said," Salehi said, according to Mehr.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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Comments (1)
ChangeIranNow wrote:
Iran’s nuclear energy program does not have peaceful aims.If Iran wants nuclear power for peaceful uses, it has to submit to inspection and buy fuel rods and not enrich its own. There is something incredibly absured in Iran’s pursuit of this position in light of its efforts to develop nuclear capability, its recent boasts of being a missile power and it’s seeking of uranium from Zimbabwe. These are not exactly the acts of a nation striving for disarmament and global peace. But it is an indication of how Iran through Rouhani seeks to present a moderate face when it in fact pursues other goals. The West shouldn’t be deceived by false promises, but instead hold Iran accountable for its acts and behavior. Rouhani is the ultimate insider and has been since the revolution, you can see his career highlights at www.hassan-rouhani.info. At the end of the day the only thing that will ensure that Iran actually deserves this seat is regime change.

Sep 20, 2013 1:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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