Kerry Anticipates ‘Good Meeting’ With Iran, Other Powers

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 26, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry on Thursday said he an­ti­cip­ates a “good meet­ing” with del­eg­ates from Ir­an and five oth­er coun­tries, but the top dip­lo­mat avoided say­ing how the Middle East­ern na­tion could prove it sin­cerely wants to dis­pel in­ter­na­tion­al fears over its atom­ic activ­it­ies, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

Kerry is sched­uled at 4 p.m. to join Ir­a­ni­an For­eign Mo­hammad Javad Za­rif and equi­val­ent-level of­fi­cials from China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia and the United King­dom. The five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­ber na­tions and Ger­many have joined Ir­an in years of on-and-off talks aimed at clear­ing up glob­al wor­ries that Tehran’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram is dir­ec­ted secretly to­ward arms de­vel­op­ment.

Ir­a­ni­an Pres­id­ent Has­san Rouh­ani said time is run­ning short to de­fuse the stan­doff, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day.

“We need res­ol­u­tion in a reas­on­able time,” he said in an in­ter­view. “If it’s three months that would be Ir­an’s choice, if it’s six months that’s still good. It’s a ques­tion of months not years.”

He sep­ar­ately played down a scuttled pro­pos­al for a face-to-face en­counter with Pres­id­ent Obama, the Chris­ti­an Sci­ence Mon­it­or re­por­ted.

“The U.S. pro­posed a meet­ing and we were not op­posed. This is a very sens­it­ive sub­ject. We have not talked at that level for 35 years. We must take these steps care­fully,” he told journ­al­ists on Wed­nes­day.

“We are ready to ne­go­ti­ate, but we didn’t have enough time to make that hap­pen,” he ad­ded.

Some ob­serv­ers be­lieve Wash­ing­ton and Tehran already may have en­gaged in be­hind-the-scenes talks on a pos­sible urani­um-en­rich­ment com­prom­ise, the Los Angeles Times re­por­ted. That en­rich­ment pro­cess can gen­er­ate ma­ter­i­al for peace­ful use, but its abil­ity to also pro­duce nuc­le­ar-bomb fuel has made it a cent­ral is­sue of dis­pute between the sides.

“Be­cause the Ir­a­ni­ans have nev­er agreed to any [en­rich­ment] lim­its,” Wash­ing­ton has no form­al stance on wheth­er it would tol­er­ate an Ir­a­ni­an urani­um re­fine­ment pro­gram un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances, said Gary Sam­ore, who in Feb­ru­ary stepped down as Pres­id­ent Obama’s WMD czar.

Rouh­ani, though, said his coun­try now is open to an across-the-board dis­cus­sion of its en­rich­ment prac­tices.

“Wheth­er it’s 20 per­cent en­rich­ment or 5 per­cent en­rich­ment, all of those can be placed on the table and ex­amined,” he said. “The en­dgame is the re­mov­al of every­one’s con­cerns, and the res­tor­a­tion of Ir­an’s rights” to re­fine urani­um.

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