Iran on Thursday rejected the proposal from the P5+1 in talks over its controversial nuclear program.
Tehran and the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – were in the second day of talks in Baghdad seeking to resolve international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.
The P5+1 plan reportedly called on Iran to halt enrichment past 3.5%, ship its stores of 20% enriched uranium out of the country, and shut down its heavily fortified Fordow enrichment facility.
They had also called on Iran to live up to its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow IAEA inspectors unrestricted access to its nuclear sites.
In exchange, the group offered benefits including medical isotopes, some nuclear safety cooperation, and spare parts for civilian airliners – much needed by Iran.
Iran criticized the proposal from the six-nation group, saying it makes too many demands of Iran while offering too little in return. Namely, Iran has said the only way forward in talks is the easing of sanctions on its vital oil industry.
Western powers rebuffed Tehran’s call for an immediate easing of economic sanctions, saying they will not give up their key lever in negotiations with the Islamic Republic.
In turn, Iran accused world powers Thursday of creating a “difficult atmosphere” with its demands.
Talks were scheduled to continue into late afternoon, but Iran is signaling the impasse is significant and could derail further talks.
AFP quoted an Iranian official as saying “the basis for another round of negotiations does not exist yet.”
Of key international concern is Iran’s secretive uranium enrichment program, especially its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity – a key jumping off point for enrichment to 90% weapons grade material.
Iran says its enrichment work is meant for medical research and generating electricity.
However, proliferation experts have noted that 3.5% enrichment is all that is needed for power generation, and that Iran has enriched far more uranium to 20% than is needed for medical isotope research.
Nor, they say, is Iran’s nuclear medicine research industry advanced or robust enough to justify the claim.
In November 2011, the IAEA released a report citing credible Western intelligence indicating Iran had engaged in – and likely continues to engage in – nuclear research of a military nature.
The report cited the construction of a high-explosives test chamber at the Parchin military base near Tehran, where IAEA officials believe Iran has been attempting to develop a charge that can detonate nuclear material.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano in March charged Iran was engaged in an attempt to cover up nuclear activity of a military nature saying, “Iran is not telling us everything.”
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