Iran pre-empts `highly laboured` nuclear talks as US seeks `first steps`

A top US official has said that Washington was “looking for first steps” from Iran towards stopping its nuclear programme.

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: Hoping to strike a breakthrough deal when Iran and six world powers meet today in Geneva, a top US official has said that Washington was “looking for first steps” from Iran towards stopping its nuclear programme and in turn, Tehran would be rewarded with uplifting of sanctions, reports said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, a senior US official said, "What we`re looking for is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran`s nuclear program from moving forward and rolls it back for the first time in decades".

Doing this, Iran would “put time on the clock” before a final agreement on Iran’s nukes was sealed.

"We are prepared to offer limited, targeted and reversible sanctions relief. We are not talking about touching the core architecture of the Iranian sanctions regime in this first step," the official said.

Meanwhile, expressing hope about the talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the upcoming talks would be "highly laboured" but the aim was to "cross over the wall of distrust" created by Western policies, reported the BBC.

Earlier, he told French daily Le Monde a deal was "not that far off" though it might not be struck at the November 7-8 talks in Geneva.

"We can conclude (a deal) this week in Geneva, and if that`s not the case it`s not a disaster, as long as things are moving forward," he was quoted as saying.

Iran and the six powers called as p5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) are to meet in Geneva today for the follow up talks after last month’s talks were termed as the most substantive and positive talks ever.

The six nations want Iran to suspend its most sensitive uranium enrichment efforts, reduce its stockpile of such material and diminish its capacity to produce it in the future.

Iran wants the powers to lift painful economic sanctions that have slashed its daily oil sales revenues by 60 percent in the last two years and devalued its rial currency by more than half.
However, Israel reacted caustically with an official saying, "We have learned in the last few hours that tomorrow at the ... talks in Geneva, a proposal will be examined under which Iran will cease enrichment at 20 percent and they will slow down the activity at the heavy water reactor at Arak, in exchange for which they will get sanctions relief”.

"From Israel`s point of view, this is a very bad deal, and we will strongly oppose these proposals."

Widely assumed to be the Middle East`s only nuclear power, Israel views Iran as an existential threat and has warned it could launch pre-emptive strikes against Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy fails to stop the program.

Tehran says it needs nuclear energy for electricity generation and medical purposes.
With Agency Inputs