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Iran declares progress at nuclear talks

Iran said differences were narrowing at talks yesterday with six world powers looking to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

But others said it was too early to speak of progress.

“Compared to the Geneva talks, the negotiations in Istanbul are being held in a more positive way,” Iranian delegate Abolfazl |Zohrevand said, referring to talks that ended last month with an Iran dances round the core issue as nuclear talks go onagreement just to meet again in Turkey.

“There are good signs that the two sides will make progress.”

But a diplomat familiar with the talks said both sides stated their positions, then had lunch.

The six — China, Britain, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — hope to nudge Iran toward acknowledging the need to reduce worries that it might turn its enrichment programme to making weapons.

Tehran insists it only wants to make nuclear fuel.

But concerns have grown because its uranium enrichment programme could also make fissile warhead material, because of its nuclear secrecy and also because the Islamic nation refuses to co-operate with attempts to investigate suspicions that it ran experiments related to making nuclear weapons.

While the six would like to |kickstart talks focused at freezing Iran's uranium enrichment, Tehran has repeatedly said this activity is not up for discussion.

Instead, Iranian officials are pushing an agenda that covers just about everything except its nuclear programme: global disarmament, Israel's suspected nuclear arsenal, and Tehran's concerns about American military bases in Iraq and elsewhere in the world.

“We want to discuss the fundamental problems of global politics at the Istanbul talks,” said Iranian chief negotiator Saeed Jalili.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested any push to restrict the meeting to Iran's nuclear programme would fail.

Zohrevand said that compromise by Iran's negotiation partners was moving the talks forward.

“They didn't get what they had hoped to get from pressure and sanctions,” he said.

“They are showing some flexibility.

“This is helping both sides to be optimistic.”

But British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Iranians must “show in these negotiations that they are prepared to discuss the whole of their nuclear programme”.

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