Iran Yields on Enrichment-Right Wording as Nuclear Talks Resume

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 20, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

Ir­a­ni­an For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­hammad Javad Za­rif’s sig­nal of flex­ib­il­ity this week re­gard­ing West­ern re­cog­ni­tion of his na­tion’s right to en­rich urani­um offered heightened an­ti­cip­a­tion of an in­ter­na­tion­al deal as talks re­sumed on Wed­nes­day in Geneva, the Lon­don Guard­i­an re­por­ted.

Speak­ing on Tues­day, Za­rif said Ir­an’s urani­um-en­rich­ment right is “non-ne­go­ti­able” but his coun­try sees “no ne­ces­sity for its re­cog­ni­tion as a right.”

The word­ing could re­move the is­sue as an obstacle to agree­ment be­cause of P-5+1 un­ease about ex­pli­citly grant­ing in writ­ing a right to en­gage in a pro­cess that many sus­pect Ir­an has used as an os­tens­ibly peace­ful cov­er for secretly mov­ing to­ward a nuc­le­ar-arms cap­ab­il­ity.

This week’s con­fab con­sti­tutes the third such meet­ing since last month aimed at lock­ing down an ini­tial agree­ment on the Middle East­ern na­tion’s dis­puted nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies, the New York Times re­por­ted.

Del­eg­ates from the six ne­go­ti­at­ing powers — China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia, the United King­dom and the United States — began Wed­nes­day’s dis­cus­sions by co­ordin­at­ing with their top in­ter­locutor, European Uni­on for­eign policy chief Cath­er­ine Ashton. Ashton was next slated to meet one-on-one with Za­rif on Wed­nes­day, pri­or to a Wed­nes­day or Thursday gath­er­ing of all the par­ti­cipants.

Pro­pos­als un­der con­sid­er­a­tion at the planned three-day meet­ing in Geneva would grant Ir­an a de­gree of re­lief from in­ter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ic pres­sure in ex­change for steps to help as­sure oth­er coun­tries that its atom­ic am­bi­tions are strictly peace­ful.

Both sides have in­dic­ated that they could yield some ground on key fric­tion points that pre­ven­ted them from reach­ing a deal in talks earli­er this month, the Guard­i­an re­por­ted on Tues­day. At that ses­sion, France pressed Tehran to halt pre­par­a­tion of a heavy-wa­ter re­act­or cap­able of gen­er­at­ing bomb-us­able plutoni­um upon com­ple­tion, and Ir­an stressed its leg­al en­ti­tle­ment to en­rich urani­um — an activ­ity that holds the po­ten­tial to pro­duce ci­vil­ian atom­ic fuel as well as nuc­le­ar-bomb ma­ter­i­al.

France, for its part, is re­portedly di­vided over its po­s­i­tion on the Arak heavy-wa­ter site.

“There is a de­bate go­ing on in Par­is, between the Quai d’Or­say [the For­eign Min­istry] and the Élysée [the pres­id­ency] on that po­s­i­tion,” a French de­fense in­sider told the Guard­i­an.

In a Wed­nes­day at­tempt to re­as­sure Ir­a­ni­an con­ser­vat­ives, the na­tion’s su­preme re­li­gious lead­er said the gov­ern­ment would ad­here to strict lim­its on what it could con­cede, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­por­ted.

Ayatol­lah Ali Khame­nei said that Tehran’s primary ob­ject­ive in the talks is “sta­bil­iz­a­tion of the rights of the Ir­a­ni­an na­tion, in­clud­ing nuc­le­ar rights.”

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