Six-nation group tries to defuse tensions over Iran nuclear programme
World powers including US and China present package to Iran and call for halt to uranium production at underground site
World powers presented Iran with a package of proposals at talks in Baghdad on Wednesday, aimed at defusing tensions over its nuclear programme and fending off the threat of a new Middle East war.
The package was presented by a six-nation group of negotiators, from the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, and called on Iran to stop the production of 20%-enriched uranium and halt enrichment at an underground site at Fordow. In return, Iran would receive reactor fuel for making medical isotopes at a research reactor in Tehran, safety guidance and equipment for the Tehran reactor and a nuclear power station at Bushehr, and access to spare parts for its civil airliners, the safety of which has been put in jeopardy as a result of sanctions.
Iranian media reported that the chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, had put forward a counter-proposal but gave no details. Sources at the talks said that Jalili had talked generally about Iran’s rights and responsibilities under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but did not go into specifics in an initial three-hour session of talks before a late lunch break. The discussions resumed on Wednesday evening, and Iranian media were predicting they would continue on Thursday, although there was no confirmation of that from western diplomats in Baghdad.
A western diplomat said: “We had a detailed exchange this morning. The E3+3 [a collective name used by the six-nation negotiating group] presented our package. The atmosphere was businesslike and meetings will continue this afternoon.”
The talks are taking place at Iraqi government offices in the highly fortified “green zone” in Baghdad, amid high security across the city. The aim of the six-nation group, chaired by the EU high representative for foreign policy, Catherine Ashton, is to begin detailed negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme that will yield sufficient results to dissuade Israel from launching military strikes against Iranian nuclear sites.
Pictured: Representatives of the five permanent members of the security council (US, Russia, China, Britain, and France) plus Germany were in Baghdad seeking concessions from Iran over its disputed nuclear enrichment activities. Photograph: Iraqi government/handout/EPA