Reuters: The United States said on Wednesday Iran would have to suspend nuclear enrichment throughout any negotiations as a condition for proposed talks with the Islamic republic over curbing its atomic programs. By Carol Giacomo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Wednesday Iran would have to suspend nuclear enrichment throughout any negotiations as a condition for proposed talks with the Islamic republic over curbing its atomic programs.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told Reuters suspension is a “firm condition” of the major powers’ offer to begin negotiations and “that condition would have to hold throughout any potential negotiations.”
“The suspension of all enrichment-related activity is at the core of what the international community is asking Iran to do,” he added.
He refused to say if a proposal by six major powers to Iran includes a provision by which it might eventually be allowed to resume enrichment on its territory.
But Western diplomats said the package of incentives presented to Iran this week leaves the door open to Tehran eventually resuming enrichment.
They also outlined details of the offer, which was agreed on by the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany and included for the first time a U.S. offer to join European-led talks with Iran.
The major powers’ proposal, which has not been made public, also offers to provide Iran with a new facility to stockpile nuclear fuel, deletes an earlier reference in a draft to guaranteeing Iran’s “territorial integrity” and proposes an informal regional security forum, the diplomats said.
The United States is leading an international drive to stop what it says is Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Iran, which is an oil exporter, says its nuclear programs are for peaceful power generation to meet the energy demand from its growing population.
Germany said if Iran did suspend enrichment — a key step to generating power or building a bomb — then the major powers would be open to negotiating other terms of the offer.
“This is an offer to kick off negotiations but there must first be a suspension of (enrichment) activities implemented by Iran,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters.
“It is a broad and comprehensive offer. I believe it is a huge chance and I hope that we’ll do a bit of negotiating.”
Iran has said it sees some positive aspects in the proposal but needs time to review it.
The powers want a response within weeks.
(Additional reporting by Parinoosh Arami in Tehran, Jon Boyle in Paris and the Moscow bureau)