Iran, world powers resume nuclear talks in Geneva

Monday, December 6, 2010

GENEVA - Iran resumed talks here Monday with six world powers over its contentious nuclear programme, a Western diplomat confirmed, with both sides seeking to build confidence rather than achieve a real breakthrough.

The two-day meeting is the first in more than 12 months during which relations between Tehran and the grouping of the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have deteriorated.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeid Jalili said on the weekend that Iran’s right to seek nuclear technology was “non-negotiable”.

His counterpart in the latest talks is European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, negotiating on behalf of the six powers.

These and other countries are worried that Iran could use its uranium enrichment plants to make fuel for nuclear warheads rather than reactors. But four rounds of UN-imposed sanctions have not been able to pressure Tehran to halt enrichment.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle Sunday called the resumption of talks a positive step and expressed hope that Iran would increase transparency surrounding its nuclear programme.

“If Iran fulfills its international obligations on transparency, Germany is willing to cooperate with Iran on the civilian use of nuclear energy,” he said.

Ahead of the talks, officials on both sides of the table said that one way to break the impasse could be to revive a confidence-building scheme in which Iran would export enriched uranium, thus signalling that it cannot be used for military means.

The plan was hatched in the previous round of talks in Geneva in October 2009, but faltered amid internal political bickering in Iran, the expansion of its nuclear programme, and new international sanctions targeting the country.

Filed under: Diplomacy

will not be displayed