Almaty Talks End on Upbeat Note
Iran and six world powers ended two days of talks in Almaty on Wednesday, agreeing to meet in Istanbul in March and in Almaty in April to discuss an updated proposal offered by the P5+1. (Reuters, 27 February)
The offer by the P5+1 reportedly will allow Iran to keep a limited amount of 20-percent enriched uranium for its Tehran research reactor. The offer also calls for the halt to the 20-percent enrichment process from now on, although it does not require Iran to close Fordo, allowing it to use the underground facility for 3.5-percent enrichment under the IAEA watch.
Iran negotiator Saeed Jalili had positive words for the six powers whose new proposal he characterized as the response to Iran’s own offer put forward in Moscow last June. “Getting closer to our viewpoint,” Jalili said of the P5+1's new offer. Jalili is also quoted as saying that the Almaty Talks was a “turning point.” (Al Monitor’s Laura Rosen)
The talks in Istanbul at technical expert level will be held on 18 March, before the Iranian New Year as discussed here earlier. The negotiations at political level will be held in Almaty on 5-6 April. The agreement to meet frequently and in short order was seen as the seriousness of the talks and deemed a success.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed hope that Iran would be looking “positively on the proposal” put forward by P5+1 in Almaty.
Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov confirmed that the six powers had offered to ease sanctions on Iran if it stops enriching uranium to 20 percent fissile purity.
Iran had said it needed the fuel for its nuclear research reactor and had a right to produce it under IAEA supervision. But Iran negotiator Saeed Jalili said the production of 20-percent fuel could be discussed in the upcoming negotiations as a “confidence building” measure.