Iran, world powers in key nuclear talks
Iran returned to talks yesterday over its disputed nuclear programme after a 14-month break, as world powers sounded out Tehran’s intentions after it claimed to have taken a new step in making fissile material.
The first day of negotiations between world powers and Iran on Tehran’s controversial nuclear programmes ended with discussions scheduled to resume today, a Western official said in Geneva.
“Talks have adjourned for the evening and will resume tomorrow (today),” a Western official said late yesterday. An AFP reporter witnessed the Iranian delegation leaving the building of the Swiss mission to the UN, after it met officials from the EU, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US following a 14-month break.
Just a day ahead of the talks, Tehran raised the stakes by revealing that it had mined and produced its first home-grown batch of uranium yellowcake instead of seeking to import new supplies.
That triggered statements of concern in Washington and Europe shortly before the meeting between the European Union’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, and Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, got under way in Geneva.
The negotiations, scheduled to last two days, began promptly yesterday morning at the building of the Swiss mission to the United Nations with Lady Ashton, Mr Jalili and officials from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States sitting around the same table.
Mr Jalili began by making a strong protest against the recent assassination of a top nuclear scientist in Tehran, according to an Iranian source.
The secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council described the attack as an “Middle Age and fascist act” and asked why the international group did not condemn the attacks, said the source.
Mr Jalili later held one-on-one meetings with the heads of the Chinese, Russian and British delegations, before returning to the table with the extended group late yesterday, added the source.
Sergey Rybakov, who heads the Russian delegation was quoted by Iranian media as telling Jalili: “We needed this round of talks and during the negotiations we will try to help to remove obstacles.”
A diplomat close to the world powers said: “We are expecting a serious response from the Iranians. We do not know what is Iran’s state of mind.”