Bloomberg: U.S. negotiators headed to Baghdad for a second round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program won’t be giving Iran the relief it is seeking from oil and financial sanctions hobbling its economy, according to Obama administration officials. Bloomberg
By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan
U.S. negotiators headed to Baghdad for a second round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program won’t be giving Iran the relief it is seeking from oil and financial sanctions hobbling its economy, according to Obama administration officials.
U.S. and European Union sanctions aimed at the No. 2 producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are already crippling Iran’s ability to export and get paid for crude, its main source of revenue. Sanctions have forced Iran back to negotiations and the U.S. is in no hurry to ease the pressure before a deal is done, said U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
While U.S. and European Union diplomats said they hope Iran will offer concrete proposals responding to concerns that its nuclear program is a cover for a weapons effort, they said no one expects Iran to comply with United Nations demands immediately.
The U.S. and the five other major powers — the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia — that hold talks with Iran May 23 in Baghdad realize they need to offer something in return if Iran agrees to step-by-step compliance, officials said. There is a list of possible incremental confidence-building measures, the officials said.
These include assistance to Iran’s civilian nuclear program and an easing of restrictions that have blocked Iran from getting spare parts for civilian aircraft, the officials said.
The six nations are willing to offer a deal similar to a failed 2009 plan to take Iran’s stockpile of 19.75 percent uranium and process it into fuel rods that would be sent back to Iran for use in the Tehran Research Reactor, which makes medical isotopes.
While medium-enriched uranium is needed to make medical isotopes to treat cancer patients, it also can be enriched further to weapons-grade levels. The international community wants Iran to halt its 19.75 percent enrichment and ship out its stockpiles — steps that Iranian officials have signaled in recent weeks they are willing to consider.