U.S. expects no big breakthroughs in Iran talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it does not expect “big breakthroughs” in this week’s talks in Istanbul with Iran on its nuclear program but is willing to discuss an updated nuclear fuel swap proposal.

The talks, which follow a similar meeting in December, will include officials from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and Germany, a group known as the P5+1.

“We’re not expecting any big breakthroughs but we want to see a constructive process emerge that ... leads to Iran engaging with the international community in a credible process and addressing the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

The United States and some of its allies suspect Iran is using its nuclear program as a cover to build atomic weapons. Tehran says the program is aimed at generating electricity.

In 2009 the P5+1 floated the idea of a fuel swap deal under which Iran would part with some of its low enriched uranium (LEU) in exchange for fuel specially processed to run a Tehran reactor producing medical isotopes.

“There would have to be some kind of updated arrangement but we’re willing to discuss that in greater detail,” Toner said when asked if such an deal would have to be revised to take into account LEU that Iran has produced since 2009.

Asked if Washington would make such a proposal, he said: “I don’t know if we’re planning to bring it up, but we’re willing to discuss it.”

Editing by Paul Simao