Iran rejects West's nuclear proposal

2012-05-24 12:04

Baghdad - Iranian negotiators on Thursday rejected proposals by six world powers to curb Tehran's nuclear programme, and demanded answers to their own counteroffer meant to alleviate concerns about Iran's ability to build atomic weapons.

The stance underscored the difficulties facing the nuclear talks as both sides stake out their terms and agendas for a second day in the Iraqi capital. Still, the negotiations did not appear in danger of collapse as envoys convened again in Baghdad. The talks were expected to wrap up later on Thursday.

The open channels between Iran and the six-nation bloc - the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany - are seen as the most hopeful chances of outreach between Washington and Tehran in years.

They also could push back threats of military action that have shaken oil markets and brought worries of triggering a wider Middle East conflict.

Saeed Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, demanded an overhaul to the plan put forward by the world powers after the Baghdad talks began on Wednesday. An Iranian diplomat involved in the discussions said the package falls far short of a compromise.

Iran went into the talks seeking that the West scale back on its sanctions, which have targeted Iran's critical oil exports and have effectively blackballed the country from international banking networks.

Incentive package

Jalili conveyed his concerns in a private meeting on Thursday with the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is formally leading the talks.

At the heart of the issue are two different proposals. On one side is an incentive package by the six-nation group - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - that seeks to halt the most sensitive part of Iran's nuclear fuel production.

Iran, in turn, wants the US and Europe to ease harsh economic sanctions on its oil exports in return for pledges to give wider access for UN inspectors and other concessions.

The West and allies fear Iran's nuclear programme could eventually produce atomic weapons. Iran insists its reactors are only for energy and research.

A senior US official predicted the pace of the talks - which began last month in Istanbul - would speed up in upcoming rounds.

"We are urgent about it, because every day we don't figure this out is a day they keep going forward with a nuclear programme," said the US official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations more candidly. "And there are all kinds of assessments about how long it will take them to get there."

No easing of sanctions

"We still think we have some time for diplomacy, but it's not indefinite," the official said.

Iranian analyst Hassan Abedini called the proposal put forward by the US and its allies unbalanced and filled only with old plans that Tehran dismissed years ago.

The Western package calls on Tehran to end its enrichment of uranium to 20%, considered a short technical step away from warhead grade. In exchange they offered benefits, including medical isotopes, some nuclear safety co-operation and spare parts for civilian airliners that are needed in Iran.

But they snubbed Iranian calls for an immediate easing of significant economic sanctions imposed on Tehran for flouting UN Security Council resolutions that demand the suspension of all enrichment.

"Giving up 20% enrichment levels in return for plane spare parts is a joke," said Abedini. "The package is unbalanced and therefore unacceptable."

  • - 2012-05-24 12:44

    "Giving up 20% enrichment levels in return for plane spare parts is a joke," said Abedini. "The package is unbalanced and therefore unacceptable." I couldn't agree more.

      Fidel - 2012-05-24 13:04

      Their attitude is entirely comprehensible.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-24 15:26

      You're both supporting an illegitimate, oppressive regime.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-24 17:23

      They adjust elections to hold onto power. They have effectively hijacked the Iranian state from the Iranian people.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-25 01:06

      Now you support the UN. Geez, Patrick, you're completely duplicitous and unreliable.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-25 20:05

      The point is Patrick, over and again you state that the UN is an illegitimate non-entity. But when it suits your false argument, the UN is the legitimate yardstick. Doesn't make sense.

  • Bradley - 2012-05-24 12:45

    more middle east conflict here we come...never ends.

      Bradley - 2012-05-24 12:46

      Its only getting worse

      Fidel - 2012-05-24 13:00

      In 1899, a Polish jew named Jean de Bloch published a book titled "Is War Impossible."

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-24 15:28

      Anything about the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of innocent Muslims being slaughtered and maimed by the Jihadists and unelected dictators in your midsts Fidel?

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-05-24 16:27

      Fidel, ANYTHING to confuse, even hundred year old books!!!! But the bottem line is, Iran exports terrorism; Russia, China and the West, will NEVER EVER allow Iran, to even get close to developing a nuclear bomb. At least, they got an agreement on this !!!!

      Fidel - 2012-05-24 19:52

      Anthony, how hard can it be? Bradley is talking about a looming war in the ME, and I am responding to him using a statement from the title of a book. "Is war Impossible".

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-25 20:07

      It's a racist reference, Fidel. Why choose a Jewish author's book?

  • Fidel - 2012-05-24 13:05

    The Iranians can be annoying, and seemingly too clever by half, but the Iranian people have been raked over the coals by the West once too often.

      Mark - 2012-05-24 13:28

      Hey Fidel, I see you've copied your comment, word for word, from here:

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-24 15:27

      Funny! Fidel is a strange person indeed.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-24 17:38

      I mean to say Fidel does strange things

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-25 01:49

      Extracts from Patrick's posts: You're a useless piece of human excrement A-hole Nazi bastard child The world would be a better place if Jews were eliminated from all walks of life

      Heinz - 2012-05-25 09:05

      Fidel (Graziela) And this you copied and pasted from: WILL YOU PLEASE FIND A JOB!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-25 20:08

      Yet you state you're strongly opposed to insulting people. Are you opposed to yourself then?

      Larry - 2012-05-27 21:10

      Lesego complains about insulting people in public, but he wants to play among the same public as a faceless fraud. Fidel, it is obvious that your intention is to come across as clever, and that your subject choice lends to controvercial opinion and sparring, and that you derive pleasure by being controvercial and oppositional, but careful not to lose sight of your soul. Be honest with yourself and apply yourself to positive outcomes, rather than gouding poorer mentalities to follow the wrong path. lesego can really do with some adult guidance.

  • TheMonk - 2012-05-24 15:32

    Cannot trust the west, nor the Iranians. What does one do when cornered by poisonous snakes?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-24 15:42

      You trust the party with the greater focus on human rights and individual freedoms.

  • mkyounus - 2012-05-26 07:58

    fred fraser what is really illegitimate is the rogue state of israel!!! who are in violation of the international law!!!.Israel is the worst form of apartheid since South Africa and i think it is high time that this rogue state be cleared off the map!!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-26 15:36

      You're believing and regurgitating more simplified popular opinion, which is rarely right. And you're being an emotionally detached genocidal racist to boot, probably without knowing it. Are you going to say and do anything about the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of innocent Muslims being slaughtered and maimed by the Jihadists and unelected dictators in your midsts. Anything?

      Larry - 2012-05-27 21:12

      mkyouranus, good luck with your efforts.

  • Larry - 2012-05-27 20:59

    Just like the Palestinians, Iran negotiates from a position of no leverage. They will do as they are told or they will bring war upon themselves.

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