World Powers Report ‘Some Progress’ as Iran Nuclear Talks Wrap Up

Posted May 24th, 2012 at 9:35 am (UTC-5)
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A spokesman for six world powers holding nuclear talks with Iran in Baghdad says negotiators have made some progress but were wrapping up with no word of a breakthrough in resolving the Iranian nuclear dispute.

EU spokesman Michael Mann told VOA that the negotiations which extended into a second day on Thursday were “tough.”

Speaking by phone from the Iraqi capital, Mann said the plenary sessions involving Iran and the six-nation group led by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton were set to end in the afternoon local time. Ashton held a bilateral meeting with Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili earlier in the day.

At issue is Iran's enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity.

Western powers want that activity to stop, fearing Iran could quickly upgrade its uranium to the 90 percent purity needed for nuclear weapons. Iran wants an easing of international sanctions in return for any concession on enrichment work, which it says is meant for medical research and generating electricity.

A senior U.S. official told Western news agencies that there was a “fair amount of disagreement” with Iran after both sides exchanged verbal proposals during the first day of talks on Wednesday. The world powers group includes the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.

The six-nation group is offering Iran incentives to stop production of highly-enriched uranium and transfer the material abroad in exchange for nuclear fuel for its research reactor in Tehran. Iranian state media said Thursday that Iranian delegates in Baghdad were disappointed by that offer, complaining that it makes too many demands of Iran without enough benefit.

In an interview with VOA, Middle East analyst Shahram Akbarzadeh said Iran may make a few concessions in a bid to ease economic sanctions.

“If by giving in to the international community slightly, if by taking one step back allows the sanctions to be cancelled then Iran would do that. But I don't think you can expect Iran to be fully cooperative with the international community.”