Iran: All nuke proposals on table for Moscow talks
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Proposals from both Iran and the group of six world powers will be on the table for nuclear talks in Moscow next week, not just the West's demand to halt Iran's highest level uranium enrichment, Iran's top negotiator said Wednesday.
Saeed Jalili said the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has agreed the negotiations will include Iranian proposals.
The two days of talks are scheduled to begin Monday, two weeks before the European Union is set to impose a full embargo on Iranian oil imports.
The talks take place against the background of indications from the Israelis and Americans of the possibility of a military strike against Iran. Both have said allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons is unacceptable. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The six-nation bloc — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany — have demanded Iran halt its 20 percent enrichment program and close down its underground Fordo nuclear site south of Tehran.
The U.S. and its allies say the 20 percent enrichment is just steps away from being boosted to weapons-grade material.
The West is offering Iran civilian plane spare parts and nuclear fuel in exchange for dropping its 20 percent enrichment program.
Jalili briefed Iran's parliament about the upcoming talks, indicating that Iran does not see them has a simple negotiation over how much uranium enrichment Iran can carry out, if any.
"(Ashton) agreed that Iran's five-point proposal is on the agenda for the Moscow discussions, even non-nuclear issues," Jalili told an open session of parliament. "We will enter into the Moscow talks on this basis."
Tehran insists that world powers must recognize its right to enrich uranium and have called for Western oil and banking sanctions to be lifted in exchange for concessions.
The 27-nation EU plans to begin an embargo of Iranian oil July 1, cutting off about 18 percent of Iran's oil exports.
Besides the 20 percent levels, Iran also enriches uranium at 3.5 to 5 percent.
"Under NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), uranium enrichment is a definite right of the Islamic Republic of Iran and any other NPT member. There is no prohibition under NPT over any kind of enrichment for peaceful purposes," Jalili told the chamber.
Jalili said Iran also has the right to carry out more extensive enrichment.
"It's possible that we may need higher or lower enrichment for other peaceful applications. This is our right, and we must be able to exercise this right," he said.
The proposals were made in talks in Baghdad last month. The West has refused to accept Iran's ideas, and Tehran finds the Western package too one-sided.
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told a news conference in Tehran Wednesday that he was "optimistic" about the Moscow talks. Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a key ally, called for a diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear standoff.