Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Talks over Iran nuclear programme

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and a clergyman walk on US and Israeli flags during a drill in Zarand amid escalating tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme (AP)

World powers have begun their fourth round of high-level talks with Iranian officials in the hope of stopping the Islamic regime's nuclear programme from making atomic weapons.

Negotiators from the six world powers - United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - will offer Iran some small new relief from harsh international sanctions to entice Tehran into stopping enriching uranium close to a weapons-grade level.

Interfax news agency cited Russia's envoy at the talks in Kazakhstan as saying easing of sanctions is possible only if Iran can assure the world that its nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes.

"There is no certainty that the Iranian nuclear programme lacks a military dimension, although there is also no evidence that there is a military dimension," Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

Few believe the latest attempt to reach compromise will yield any major breakthroughs, and negotiators refused to detail what the new solutions might be.

Instead, officials described the latest diplomatic discussions as a way to build confidence with Iran as it steadfastly maintains its right to enrich uranium in the face of harsh international sanctions.

"The offer addresses the international concern on the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, but it is also responsive to Iranian ideas," said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is leading the negotiations. "We've put some proposals forward which will hopefully allow Iran to show some flexibility."

Mahmoud Mohammedi, a member of the Iranian delegation, said Tehran is prepared to make an offer of its own to end the impasse but refused to provide any details.

The Obama administration is pushing for diplomacy to solve the impasse but has not ruled out the possibility of military intervention in Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And Israel has threatened it will use all means to stop Iran from being able to build a bomb, potentially as soon as this summer, raising the spectre of a possible Mid East war.

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