World Powers Offer to Resume Iran Nuclear Talks

Posted March 6th, 2012 at 11:35 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Six world powers have offered to resume long-stalled talks with Iran to address Western suspicions of a military dimension to the Iranian nuclear program.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says she made the offer to resume talks in a letter sent to Iranian nuclear envoy Saeed Jalili on Tuesday. Ashton has been leading negotiations with Iran as a representative of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — as well as Germany.

In her letter, Ashton says the goal of the six powers remains a “negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.”

Israel and Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program, a charge Tehran denies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Tuesday as part of a series of discussions with U.S. officials and lawmakers about how to respond to Iran's nuclear work.

In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee late Monday, Mr. Netanyahu said Israel cannot afford to wait much longer for diplomacy and sanctions to pressure Iran.

In a White House meeting earlier Monday, President Barack Obama urged Mr. Netanyahu to give diplomacy and sanctions more time to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The EU's Ashton says the six powers and Iran must agree on a time and venue for the nuclear talks, which have been stalled since January 2011. Iranian envoy Jalili had sent a letter to Ashton last month, pledging Iran's readiness to restart talks on the nuclear issue.

VOA's U.N. correspondent says a diplomat told her last week that a new round of talks is unlikely to be scheduled until April at the earliest.

Iran's government said Tuesday it is willing to provide U.N. nuclear experts with conditional access to a military complex they suspect of being used for research towards developing nuclear weapons. A U.N. watchdog delegation had requested access to the Parchin site during visits to Iran in January and February, but Iran refused.

Iran's delegation to the Vienna-based IAEA says granting access to Parchin is a “time-consuming process and cannot be permitted repeatedly” due to the site's military status.