AP: European-led talks aimed at getting Iran to abandon nuclear activities are “very fragile,” with negotiators discussing economic, technical and political cooperation, France’s foreign minister said Monday. Michel Barnier would not elaborate on the proposals in an interview with The Associated Press. Associated Press
By ELAINE GANLEY
Associated Press Writer
AVALLON, France – European-led talks aimed at getting Iran to abandon nuclear activities are “very fragile,” with negotiators discussing economic, technical and political cooperation, France’s foreign minister said Monday.
Michel Barnier would not elaborate on the proposals in an interview with The Associated Press. But he said talks range over issues including economic, technical and commercial cooperation, Iran’s wish to join the World Trade Organization and political dialogue.
“We are in negotiations that are very fragile and complex. We are advancing with our eyes open,” Barnier said. “European proposals are very serious and should be understood as such” by Iran.
The Europeans have been pressing Tehran to abandon its uranium enrichment activities in exchange for economic aid and technical support. Enriched uranium can be used to produce energy or nuclear weapons.
Iran maintains its nuclear activities are meant to generate electricity, but the United States maintains they are part of a weapons program.
Officials from France, Britain and Germany, acting on behalf of the 25-nation European Union, are expected to meet with Iranian officials next week. The talks will likely take place Wednesday in Geneva, French officials said.
Previously, officials indicated the talks would be held Tuesday in either Paris or Brussels, Belgium.
Barnier said an accord reached in November under which Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment activities is still operational.
“The Iranians know very well the consequences if the accord is not respected,” he said. “Iran has much to win” if the talks to succeed, “and we want to succeed.”
Barnier’s comments came as an Iranian dissident and a senior diplomat said Tehran was circumventing international export bans on sensitive dual-use materials by smuggling graphite and a graphite compound that can be used to make conventional and nuclear weapons.
With most countries adhering to international agreements banning the sale of such “dual-use” materials to Tehran, Iran has been forced to buy it on the black market, Iranian exile Alireza Jafarzadeh told the AP – allegations confirmed by a senior diplomat familiar with Iran’s covert nuclear activities.
Phone calls to Iranian diplomats seeking comment were not answered.