Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Iran seeks nuclear talks with EU fair

The chief Iranian negotiator on nuclear issues said on Tuesday a letter sent in February by the foreign policy chief of the European Union, saying that talks on its nuclear program should be no pressure, state television reported. United States and its allies suspect Iran's program of uranium enrichment is a covert plan to develop atomic bombs.

Tehran says it needs nuclear technology to meet its domestic demand for electricity. In a letter in response to another posted by Catherine Ashton three months ago, the Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili "stressed that the (upcoming) talks should be fair and without pressure," state television channel al Alam.

Analysts said that references to "fair" and "no pressure" Iran is a code that means there will be discussions on enrichment, which Iran considers a sovereign right. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said again Monday that Iran would not suspend uranium enrichment. The latest six-power talks with Iran broke down in January after Tehran ruled out suspending enrichment, in defiance of several resolutions of the Security Council adopted UN since 2006.

Iranian media said this month that Tehran had received a letter from Ashton, the EU's top diplomat who has represented six major powers in its dealings with Iran. "The letter (in response to Ashton) was given in Vienna by the Iranian ambassador to the European Union. In the letter, Saeed Jalili welcomed the return of the (group) P5 +1 to the talks," Alam told.

The "P-5 +1" is the acronym for the five permanent members of the Security Council: United States, Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany. "I'm happy to return to the talks (...) respect the rights of nations and avoid the use of pressure are the two main pillars of cooperation," Jalili said, according to statement released by the Supreme National Security Council National he heads.

Ahmadinejad said Monday that the next round of nuclear talks could take place in Istanbul, but did not set a date. The six powers may not be willing to quickly return to dialogue if there is no prospect of agreement, especially given that many Western diplomats believe Iran is advantageous to prolong the negotiations while increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Iran says other countries must respect its "nuclear rights" and that its enrichment activities are not negotiable. Uranium enrichment can be used to operate nuclear power plants or, if refined to a much greater extent, could provide fissile material for atomic bombs. Iran's reserves are growing low-enriched uranium, officials said, despite the technical failures, international sanctions and the emergence of the computer virus Stuxnet.

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