April 15, 2012 1:23:23 am
Talks between Iran and six world powers about the aims of Irans nuclear programme took place Saturday,with the EU foreign policy chief saying that the discussions had been constructive,and that the two sides will meet again in Baghdad on May 23.
Catherine Ashton,who is leading the meeting,said future talks will be guided by the principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity. That indicates that the international community is ready to reward Iran if it reduces fears that it may use its atomic programme to make weapons.
She also said after the talks in Istanbul on Saturday that Iran has a right to a peaceful nuclear programme. At the same time,she says the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty must be the key basis for future talks.
The talks,Ashton said at their commencement,were to find ways in which we can build confidence between us and ways in which we can demonstrate that Iran is moving away from a nuclear weapons programme.
A Western diplomat who attended the talks said the morning had shown serious engagement on the part of Iran and a willingness to discuss the heart of the issue, which is skepticism about the aims of Irans nuclear programme,which is being carried out despite UN Security Council sanctions.
Iran agreed to resume these talks with six major world powers the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council,plus Germany after more than a year without any negotiations,raising hopes in the West that Iran might be ready to strike a deal over its nuclear programme,which it denies has any military intent.
The six want to ensure that Iran will not become a nuclear-weapons-capable state and that it will comply with its requirements under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to open its facilities to complete inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The diplomats suggested that a positive first step would be for Tehran to agree to allow the inspectors to visit all nuclear sites,including those Iran refused to show them in February. That would help restore confidence and could be enough to open the way to further talks,diplomats said.
Iran has fueled Western suspicions by denying the atomic energy agency access to the Parchin military base near Tehran,where the agency says Iran may have tested explosives for warhead research.
If the talks ultimately fail,the United States and Israel have refused to rule out military action in order to stop Irans steady enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity,just a few technical steps from bomb-grade.
(with AP inputs)
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