Iran says powers receptive to ideas for ending nuclear stand-off

GENEVA Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:43am EDT

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a photo opportunity before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a photo opportunity before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool

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GENEVA (Reuters) - Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Tuesday world powers were receptive to Tehran's proposals for easing the stand-off over its nuclear program and details would be discussed in the afternoon.

The minister, speaking to reporters after Iran made a PowerPoint presentation at the start of a two-day meeting with the six powers in Geneva, said the atmosphere in the discussions had been "positive". He gave no details of the proposals, describing them as "confidential".

In subsequent comments made only to Iranian media, Araqchi said any final agreement should eliminate all sanctions on Iran and enable it to continue to enrich uranium, according to the ISNA news agency.

But he did not go into detail on what Iran might be willing to offer in return, apart from transparency and monitoring by the U.N. nuclear watchdog. He also said a religious decree by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banning nuclear weapons should be "used as the most important confidence-building step".

Michael Mann, spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who leads the negotiations on behalf of world powers, said the Iranian presentation had been "very useful". Mann did not elaborate.

Western diplomats were not immediately available for comment. They had earlier called on Iran to put forward concrete proposals to allay their concerns about the Islamic state's nuclear energy program, which the West fears may aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies this.

The six powers - the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany - want Iran to curb sensitive nuclear uranium enrichment. Iran wants them to ease tough energy and banking sanctions that have severely restricted its vital oil exports.

"There is a positive atmosphere. Our plan was given and it's planned that in the afternoon we will discuss more details, but the first reactions were good," Araqchi told reporters after the morning session broke for lunch.

"It's a completely realistic, balanced and logical plan." Talks were due to resume around 3 p.m. (1300 GMT).

The Geneva talks, the first since relative moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected Iran's president in June on a platform to ease its international isolation, is seen as the best chance for years to defuse a festering stand-off over Iran's nuclear ambitions that has heightened the risk of a new Middle East war.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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ChangeIranNow wrote:
As a non-nuclear state party to the (NPT), Iran owes a legal duty to the international community to refrain from manufacturing and acquiring nuclear weapons. These obligations are interpreted by the NPT’s enforcement agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to also require states to provide credible assurance regarding non-diversion of nuclear material and the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. Iran’s systematic violations of the NPT are well documented. Despite Iran’s insistence that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes, the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that Iran’s nuclear work is not consistent with any other application than the development of a nuclear weapon. Iran continues to conceal its nuclear program and conduct enrichment-related activities, in violation of the NPT, the IAEA Safeguards Agreement, all subsequent IAEA Safeguards Resolutions, and numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Iran, therefore, needs to be held accountable to the terms of the NPT and sanctions shouldn’t be lifted simply based on promises, but on concrete action.

Oct 16, 2013 10:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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