Iran has called on the West to look to lifting its sanctions if it wants to quickly resolve the showdown over Tehran’s disputed nuclear activities,a prospect swiftly ruled out by Washington.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi outlined his country’s message in an interview with the news agency ISNA yesterday,following milestone talks at the weekend in Istanbul between Iran and world powers.
Those talks,described by both sides as an encouraging revival of a process that had been moribund for 15 months,are now due to be developed in another,more substantive round on May 23 in Baghdad.
“If the West wants to build trust,it should begin with sanctions,because it can help speed up the talks reaching a solution,” Salehi was quoted as saying.
“If goodwill (from the West) is present… we are ready to rapidly and easily,and even in the Baghdad meeting,resolve all issues” regarding Iran’s nuclear programme,he said.
The foreign minister appeared to suggest that the level of enrichment could be up for discussion.
However,US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,during a trip to Brazil yesterday,insisted that the “burden of action” is with Iran to prove it is serious in nuclear talks,dismissing Tehran’s appeals for world powers to ease sanctions first.
“The burden of action falls on the Iranians to demonstrate their seriousness and we’re going to keep the sanctions in place and the pressure on Iran” as Tehran prepares for the talks in Baghdad next month,Clinton said in Brasilia.
“And we’ll respond accordingly,” she added following the talks at the weekend in Istanbul between Iran on one hand and the United States,China,Russia,France,Britain and Germany on the other.
While Iran’s negotiators will take the position in Baghdad that producing 20 per cent enriched uranium “is our right,” foreign minister Salehi said,if the world powers “guarantee they will provide us with fuel of various purities,it will change the perspective.”
Iran currently enriches uranium to 3.5 per cent and to 20 percent. The former it says is to power its Bushehr nuclear electricity plant and the latter it says is to generate medical isotopes in its Tehran research reactor.
Uranium has to be enriched to 90 per cent or above for use in an atomic bomb.
Salehi’s comments could add impetus to the Baghdad round of talks,especially as the West has so far made no mention of previous demands that Iran halt all uranium enrichment — a demand also stated in UN Security Council resolutions.