Thu, Apr 16, 2009 - Page 6 News List

World powers planning talks on Iran

NUCLEAR AGENDA While the six major powers considered how to get Iran back to the negotiating table, Tehran urged the UN to deal firmly with Israel’s ‘threats’

AGENCIES , VIENNA, UNITED NATIONS AND MOSCOW

The US and five other world powers are planning talks on new strategies to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, said diplomats from the countries involved.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the ultimate goal of getting Iran to suspend its enrichment program remained unchanged.

But three diplomats from countries involved in the discussions said on Tuesday that Washington and its negotiating partners were planning to review strategies on engaging Iran on its nuclear program.

They are awaiting a formal reply from Tehran on a new meeting to follow up on the last, abortive session nearly a year ago.

US officials declined to publicly discuss possible new strategies for dealing with Iran but said the immediate goal is to get Iran back to the negotiating table.

One senior US official said that could involve allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium at its current level for an as-yet undetermined length of time.

That concession was agreed two years ago by the US and the five other powers — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The idea is to wrest a commitment from Iran not to increase its activities during the time it takes to arrange formal negotiations meant to reach a permanent agreement on the scope of Tehran’s nuclear program.

That could include tolerating some form of domestic enrichment on the part of Iran at some point in the future.

In an offer made to Tehran in June — that Iran did not take up — the six nations said they were willing “to recognize Iran’s right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes” in line with its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

They also offered to treat Iran’s nuclear program “in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear Weapon State Party to the NPT once international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program is restored.”

Meanwhile, Iran demanded on Tuesday that the UN Security Council respond firmly to what it described as Israel’s “unlawful and insolent threats” to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, have suggested the Jewish state could use military force to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran’s UN ambassador, in a letter to Mexican UN Ambassador Claude Heller, said Israel was violating the UN charter and urged the international body to respond clearly and resolutely. Mexico holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council.

“These outrageous threats of resorting to criminal and terrorist acts against a sovereign country and a member of the United Nations not only display the aggressive and warmongering nature of the Zionist regime, but also constitute blatant violations of international law,” Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee wrote.

Separately, a top official with Russia’s state office for arms sales told Interfax yesterday that Moscow had not implemented its planned sale of sophisticated S-300 air defense systems to Iran.

“Nothing is happening. Supplies are not taking place,” said Alexander Fomin, deputy head of the Federal Service for Arms Cooperation, at an arms fair in Rio de Janeiro.

Russia’s plans to provide the systems to Iran have attracted criticism from the US and Israel, neither of which have ruled out attacks on Iran’s controversial atomic facilities.

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