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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Photo: AFP
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Photo: AFP
 
 

Powers to offer Iran sanctions relief at nuclear talks

As fresh nuclear negotiations begin in Kazakhstan, West is poised to offer defiant Islamic Republic various mitigations in order to breach deadlock, curb atom work; but chances for breakthrough are slim

Reuters
Latest Update: 02.26.13, 11:38 / Israel News

World powers began talks with Iran on its nuclear program in the Kazakh city of Almaty on Tuesday, in a fresh attempt to resolve a decade-old standoff that threatens the Middle East with a new war.

 

The six – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France – are expected to offer Tehran some sanctions relief if it curbs work that they suspect is intended to produce material for nuclear weapons, which threatens to trigger another war in the Middle East.

 

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Iran insists its nuclear endeavors are for peaceful purposes.

 

In their first meeting in eight months – time that Iran has used to expand atomic activity that the West suspects is aimed at developing a bomb capability – the powers hope Iran will engage in serious talks on finding a diplomatic solution. Still, no real breakthrough is expected at the talks.

 

But with the Islamic Republic's political elite pre-occupied with worsening internal infighting ahead of a June presidential election, few believe the meeting Tuesday and Wednesday will yield any real results.  

 

 

At best, diplomats and analysts say, Iran will take the joint offer from the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and China seriously and agree to hold further talks soon on how to implement practical steps to ease the tension.

 

"What we would like to see tomorrow is recognition by our Iranian colleagues that our offer is a serious one… but it is not the final act in the play," said one diplomat participating in the talks. "I wouldn't predict a decisive breakthrough."

 

Iran is showing no sign, however, of backing down over a nuclear program, which has drawn tough Western sanctions that have greatly reduced its oil exports, an economic lifeline.

 

Iran is reportedly gearing to offer a "comprehensive package of proposals" of its own, Tehran's state-run Press TV reported. It said the proposals may change depending on offers from the P5+1 group of nations. The report gave no details of the proposals.

 

A UN nuclear watchdog report last week said Iran was for the first time installing advanced centrifuges that would allow it to significantly speed up its enrichment of uranium, which can have both civilian and military purposes.

 

Western officials say the powers' offer – an updated version of one rejected by Iran in the last meeting in June – would include an easing of sanctions of trade in gold and other precious metals if Tehran closes its Fordo enrichment plant.

 

"The window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot by definition remain open forever. But it is open today. It is open now," US Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference in London this week.

 

"There is still time but there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and negotiate in good faith."

 

 

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First Published: 02.26.13, 10:03

 

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