Middle East

Clinton: World will know soon whether Iran’s nuclear work is peaceful

Indian Foreign Minister S.M.Krishna, right, and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi pose for photos before their meeting in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 31, 2012. Salehi is on a two day visit to India. (AP Photo/ Manish Swarup)

OSLO/TEHRAN: Major powers will know within a few weeks whether Iran plans to take concrete action to demonstrate that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday.

Six major powers are scheduled to hold a third round of talks with Iran in Moscow on June 18-19 that the West hopes will persuade Iran to answer questions about its nuclear program, which the West suspects is designed to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful purposes.

“We will continue to push forward on the P5+1, but we are looking for concrete actions and we will know by the next meeting in Moscow in just a few weeks whether Iran is prepared to take such actions,” Clinton said Oslo.

“So there are lots of ... concerns that we continue to have about their intentions, but we will judge them by their actions and we will determine whether those actions are sufficient to meet their obligations,” she said

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi expressed “high hopes” Friday that the new round of talks would succeed if world powers came with a “positive” approach.

Speaking during a visit to New Delhi, the foreign minister acknowledged that Iran and the P5+1 group would face “difficult negotiations,” the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

But Salehi said the Islamic Republic remained optimistic, saying the “direction” of the talks so far had been good.

“In any case [they are] difficult negotiations and both parties should act and accelerate this process in a way [that] this case bears fruit as soon as possible, satisfying both parties,” Salehi told IRNA in New Delhi. “The direction [of the talks] is correct and given this we have high hopes on the negotiations’ success.”

Iran and the P5+1, which comprises the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, have previously met in April in Istanbul and again in May in Baghdad.

“We hope that in the Moscow meeting the other party enters the talks with a positive approach,” Salehi said.

At the May 23-24 talks in Baghdad the negotiations exposed a gulf between the two sides’ positions that looked almost unbridgeable, and nearly caused the talks to collapse.

The priority issue for the P5+1 going into the Moscow round is convincing Iran to give up enriching uranium to 20 percent purity and hand over its 20-percent stock in a fuel-swap deal.

Uranium enriched to 20 percent is just a few technical steps short of bomb-grade 90 percent uranium.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told France 24 television Wednesday that his country viewed 20 percent enrichment as “one of our rights in terms of international law.”

He hinted that Iran might still negotiate on that issue, but only if the P5+1 greatly sweetened its offer.

Salehi, who was Iran’s atomic program chief, reiterated the Islamic Republic’s position that Tehran scrupulously adheres to the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“We [Iran] are exerting all our efforts so the NPT can act as prevention of non-peaceful nuclear activities in the world and we consider [it] in the interests of the Islamic Republic and we are emphasizing on it,” Salehi said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 02, 2012, on page 10.

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