World powers and Iran met in Moscow yesterday for talks intended to narrow differences over Tehran’s nuclear program and avert the danger of a new war in the Middle East, diplomats said.
The six powers — the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — hope to persuade Iran to curb production of high-grade uranium they suspect is a step towards making nuclear weapons.
Iran, which denies its nuclear programme has military purposes, has refused to do so until the six powers publicly acknowledge that it has the right to carry out work.
Tehran also wants relief from economic sanctions with new US and EU limitations threatening to start in the next two weeks.
“Talks have started,” said a diplomat involved in the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Western diplomats have said a breakthrough is unlikely at the Moscow meeting, the third such talks since diplomacy over the issue resumed after a 15-month hiatus in April.
As efforts to move talks forward continue, Iran is ready to suspend its controversial 20 percent uranium enrichment program if Europe guarantees the delivery of nuclear fuel for its reactors, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a message on his official Web site.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always said that, if the European countries give Iran 20 percent [enriched uranium] fuel, Iran will not carry out enrichment to that level,” he was quoted as saying in a text on the Web site published late on Sunday.
Iran insists enrichment is its right under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and that, even if it is ready to negotiate on 20 percent enrichment, lower-level enrichment will still continue.