October 16, 2013
Iran hints at significant concessions over nuclear programme (Julian Borger, 10/16/13, The Guardian)
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 16, 2013 4:26 PMDiplomats from a six-nation negotiating group who took part in the two days of talks in Geneva said they were unlike any that had gone before. One western official said the two-day meeting in Geneva marked the beginning of the first true negotiations between Iran and the west since the Iranian nuclear programme first came to light in 2002."Before, the Iranians came to make speeches. This had a completely different tone and atmosphere," said a western official. "Everything was on the table and we discussed everything in depth."In an unprecedented joint statement, the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who chairs the six-nation group, and the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, described the two days in Geneva as "substantive and forward-looking negotiations". It noted that Zarif had begun the meeting by presenting "an outline of a plan as a proposed basis for negotiation, which is being carefully considered by the [six-nation group] as an important contribution."Very few details of Zarif's PowerPoint presentation, entitled Closing an Unnecessary Crisis: Opening New Horizons, were released. However, Iranian and western diplomats made clear that the plan involved a timetable that included initial confidence-building steps at the start, implemented within the first six months, leading eventually to a comprehensive and permanent settlement, in which Iran could pursue a peaceful atomic programme without suffering punitive measures.Iranian officials said they had put on the table a variety of possible limitations on Iran's enrichment of uranium in return for sanctions relief and international recognition of Iran's sovereign right to carry out enrichment, which is necessary to make both power reactor fuel and fissile material for weapons.To reassure the international community that the Iranian programme was entirely peaceful, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, said Tehran could contemplate acceptance of more intensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The inspections regime, known as the additional protocol, allows inspectors to go to sites where they suspect there could be nuclear-related activity, and not just those declared by Iran.
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