Thursday, April 26, 2007

Report on Larijani-Solana Talks

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, today continued their talks on the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. The talks started yesterday in Ankara amid reports that the West was prepared to soften its stance toward Iran. AP had reported that the Solana was prepared to offer Larijani a modified “double suspension” compromise, whereby Iran would keep some part of its uranium enrichment activities.

The sticking point during the negotiations has been the status of the uranium-enriching cascades of centrifuges at Natanz. According to reports widely circulated today the talks have been centered on a proposal by Switzerland not to dismantle the cascades but to put them in a “cold reserve” status. In effect under the Swiss proposal the cascades will remain linked up but will not be turned on. Iran has so far accepted a “hot reserve” alternative, whereby the centrifuges still operate but would not enrich the uranium gas. Iran’s proposal would allow it to start up the cascades at any moment.

The two sides announced that they will continue their talks beyond today. The major powers are scheduled to meet in London on 2 May. It is expected that Solana and Larijani finalize their agreement prior to the meeting to allow the London group to approve the compromise.

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