Iran, World Powers Launch Nuclear Talks

Posted April 13th, 2012 at 3:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Delegations from Iran and world powers are in Turkey ahead of the first talks on Iran's controversial nuclear program in over a year.

Iran and representatives of the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia were holding preliminary meetings on Friday, ahead of direct talks set to begin Saturday in Istanbul.

Tehran has faced Western sanctions over accusations that it is trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran says its program is for peaceful use.

U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes called the talks a “good first step.” He told reporters on Friday that the burden of proof is on the Iranians because “they are the ones in violation of their international commitments.”

Earlier this week, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said his country would present unspecified new initiatives at the talks, but warned that efforts by the West to exert pressure on Tehran would “backfire.”

Saeed Jalili also said efforts to use what he called the “language of force” against Iran would be “useless.”

Because of continuing gaps in negotiating positions, Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O'Hanlon says most analysts do not think the talks will succeed.

“I think it's fairly clear that Iran has no particular interest in detente with the outside world. No interest in knowing or acknowledging that it has been squeezed into submission and it does want a nuclear weapon capability at some level.”

But Michael Singh, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says the talks could produce results because Iran is facing massive international pressure.

“I hope that these talks will validate the strategy of trying to use pressure in conjunction with diplomacy to get the Iranians to really shift their course, to change their approach to this nuclear question.”