Iran 'may allow' snap nuclear checks as last step

Iran ‘may allow’ snap nuclear checks as last step


Iran could allow unannounced visits to its nuclear sites as a “last step” in a proposal to resolve differences with the West, an Iranian official says.Lowering uranium enrichment levels could also be part of a final deal, the official told Iranian media.
World powers and Iran are holding a second and final day of talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme in Geneva.
Another round of talks will be held on 7 and 8 November, also in Geneva, Iranian media reports say.
EU and Iranian officials have expressed optimism over the current round of talks but in a note on his Facebook page, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Zarif sounded a note of caution: “Negotiation and reaching a solution is difficult and… needs a lot of time and care.
“One cannot expect to remove the mistrust that has been accumulated between the two sides only by a positive and completely constructive meeting,” he said.
Iran has said its proposal at the two-day summit in Geneva has the “capacity to make a breakthrough”.
The talks are the first since Hassan Rouhani – seen as a relative moderate – became Iran’s president in August.
The West suspects Tehran of seeking to build nuclear bombs, but Iran says its programme is purely for peaceful purposes.
The discussions in Geneva bring together Iranian officials and representatives of the “P5+1 group”, made up of Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany.
International negotiators want Tehran to take specific steps to prevent it from ever being able to make nuclear weapons, the BBC’s James Reynolds in Geneva reports.
In return, they promise to lift some of international sanctions which have been imposed in recent years.
Key P5+1 demands include the acceptance by Iran of a comprehensive verification regime – with unannounced checks – and a reduction in Iran’s level of uranium enrichment.
Asked about these two points, Deputy Foreign Minster Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying: “Neither of these issues are within the first step [of the Iranian proposal]but form part of our last steps”.
Iran subscribed to a fuller inspection regime under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was known as the additional protocol, until 2006.
‘Good exchange’
Speaking on the first day of talks on Tuesday, Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said there was a sense of “cautious optimism” and that “for the first time, very detailed technical discussions” took place.
Iran gave an hour-long PowerPoint presentation in English.
The Iranian team is led by Mr Zarif, although much of the actual negotiating is said to have been delegated to Mr Araqchi.
Before the talks, Mr Zarif expressed hopes that “by Wednesday we can reach agreement on a roadmap to find a path towards resolution”. However, the West has hinted that it will be difficult to clinch a deal in just two days of talks.
Western nations have demanded that Iran halt the production and stockpiling of uranium enriched to 20% – a step away from achieving a nuclear weapons capability. They also want Iran to send some of its stockpiles abroad, and shut down the Fordo production site near the city of Qom, where most of the higher-grade enrichment work is done.
Since 2006 the UN Security Council has imposed a series of sanctions – including asset freezes and travel bans – on entities and people involved in Iran’s nuclear programme.
Separate US and EU sanctions have targeted Iran’s energy and banking sectors, crippling its oil-based economy.
Iran wants the sanctions lifted.
Mr Araqchi insisted earlier there could be no question of Iran relinquishing its stockpiles of enriched uranium.
“We will not allow even a gram of uranium to go out of the country,” he was quoted as saying by Iranian media. – BBC News


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