Volume. 12234

Iran ready to offer new proposal in nuclear talks
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_02_am3(40).jpgTEHRAN – Iran is ready to offer a new proposal during nuclear talks with world powers in Kazakhstan, Iranian news agencies quoted an informed source close to the Iranian negotiating team as saying on Tuesday.
A new round of talks between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) over the country’s nuclear program began on Tuesday in Almaty, Kazakhstan. 
The negotiations will continue on Wednesday.
The world powers have demanded that Iran halt 20 percent enrichment, shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility, and ship all of its stocks of 20 percent enriched uranium out of the country. 
Iran’s main demand is that its right to uranium enrichment, as enumerated in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, be recognized.
“Our proposal includes a range of options. Depending on what proposal we receive from the other side, different versions of the new proposal can be presented,” the informed source said. 
“Our purpose of presenting this proposal is to see whether the Westerners are really worried about the nature of Iran’s nuclear program or they are using the issue as a tool to blackmail Iran,” he said. 
A U.S. official said on Monday that the powers’ updated offer to Iran - a modified version of one rejected by Iran last year - would take into account its recent nuclear advances, but also take “some steps in the sanctions arena.”
This would address some of Iran’s concerns but not meet its demand that all sanctions be lifted, the official said.
A Western official said the powers had formally presented the offer during Tuesday’s talks but gave no details, Reuters reported. 
Reuters had previously quoted Western officials as saying the powers’ offer would include an easing of sanctions on trade in gold and other precious metals if Tehran closes Fordo.
The facility is used for enriching uranium to 20 percent fissile purity.
Western officials acknowledge an easing of U.S. and European sanctions on trade in gold represents a relatively modest step. But it could be used as part of barter transactions that might allow Iran to circumvent tight financial sanctions.
The web-based news site Al Monitor said on Tuesday that the big powers’ offer could also include some relief for the petrochemical industry and in banking. 
Iran has dismissed the reported incentive as insufficient and a senior Iranian lawmaker has ruled out closing Fordo.
In addition, a spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who oversees contacts with Iran on behalf of world powers, said on Tuesday, “It is clear that nobody expects to come from Almaty with a fully done deal.” 
“We are looking for flexibility from the Iranians,” said Ashton’s spokesman, Michael Mann.

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Last Updated on 26 February 2013 17:57