Negotiating teams from world powers and Iran have arrived at the UN’s European offices in Geneva for fresh talks on Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme, the first such negotiations since the election of the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.
|Nuclear talks – the view from Iran
The talks in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday will involve representatives of Iran and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany – the so-called “P5+1” group.
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Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said world powers had a “good” first reaction to Tehran’s proposals. He spoke to reporters after Iran made a
PowerPoint presentation, describing the atmosphere in the discussions as “positive”.
He gave no details of the proposals, describing them as “confidential”.
Western diplomats were not immediately available for
Iranian diplomats are expected to face pressure to scale back their country’s enrichment of uranium in return for the easing of tough US-led sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
The election in June of Rouhani, who has pledged to smooth Tehran’s international relations, has raised hopes of a negotiated solution and thawed relations between the US and Tehran Rouhani said in New York last month he wanted a deal with the P5+1 within three to six months.
A US official told the Reuters news agency that any potential sanctions relief would be “targeted, proportional to what Iran puts on the table… no one should expect a breakthrough overnight”, the official stressed.
Diplomats said scenarios for potential relief had been drawn up ahead of the talks.
Meanwhile, Israel on Tuesday urged the world to avoid a partial deal with Iran which could see a relaxing of sanctions.
The security cabinet warned the international community against any “partial agreement that would fail to bring about the full dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear programme…[which] could lead to the collapse of the sanctions regime.”
The US and its allies suspect Iran is seeking to develop the capability to make nuclear weapons. Iran denies this but its refusal to curb sensitive nuclear activity has drawn tough international sanctions.
|Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has urged the world to maintain sanctions on Iran.
Since 2006, Iran has rejected UNSC demands that it halt uranium enrichment and has continued to expand its nuclear fuel programme, leading to increasingly harsh sanctions.
Hopes of a negotiated settlement of the dispute were raised last month when President Barack Obama and Rouhani spoke by telephone, the highest level US-Iranian contact since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979. Washington and Tehran have not had diplomatic relations since 1980.
In the US, 10 senators – six Democrats and four Republicans – wrote to Obama to say they were open to such a deal to relaxing sanctions on Iran if it slows down its nuclear programme.
The World Bank says sanctions pushed Iran into recession last year, and the Iranian rial lost an estimated 80 percent of its value against the US dollar between March 2012 and March 2013, leading to high inflation. It says bankruptcies are in the rise, Iran’s pharma industry struggles to import supplies and factories are working at half capacity.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved even stricter new sanctions in July. The Senate Banking Committee agreed to delay them until after the Geneva negotiations only after appeals from the Obama administration.