Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Iran continues to play for time and easing of sanctions

From The Australian, 16 Oct 2013, by AFP:

IRAN has said it had presented a potentially "breakthrough" proposal to end a decade-long [make that "15-year"] standoff with world powers over its nuclear drive...
Iran's team said it received a good reception to its new plan ...[at its] two-day meeting with the European Union-chaired P5+1 group - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany ...
 "The proposal that we have introduced has the capacity to make a breakthrough," senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi said, telling reporters it was "very comprehensive" but that all parties had agreed to keep it under wraps.
... [Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif said Tehran's plan contained three steps that could settle the long-running nuclear standoff "within a year"...
EU spokesman Michael Mann said discussions had been "very detailed" and technical, and underlined the "very different" atmosphere compared to previous talks. A senior US State Department official added: "For the first time, we had very detailed technical discussions, which carried on this afternoon. We will continue these discussions tomorrow."
.... Despite the upbeat tone, Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Araqchi as saying that snap inspections of the Islamic republic's nuclear facilities were not part of the new proposal. "It does not exist in the offer," Mr Araqchi told IRNA. Iran has drawn other red lines, saying it will not accept any demand to suspend uranium enrichment or ship out stockpiles of purified material.

Israel ...warned against accepting "cosmetic concessions" that would not impede Iran's weapons quest. It has not ruled out a military strike on archfoe Iran to halt the nuclear drive, and has warned the world not to fall for Mr Rowhani's "sweet talk".
Western negotiators insist they are cautiously hopeful but not naive. "We have come here with a sense of cautious optimism and a great sense of determination because we believe it's really time now for tangible results," Mr Mann said. "There are signals from Tehran that they want to engage in these negotiations, that they want to be more transparent. The proof would be if they made real progress," he said. "We are on our side ambitious to move forward quickly... The ball remains in their court."
A senior US administration official said earlier in Geneva that any easing of sanctions would be "targeted, proportional to what Iran puts on the table". "We are hopeful, but that has to be tested with concrete, verifiable actions," the official said. A first meeting between Mr Zarif and his counterparts from the six powers took place last month during the UN General Assembly, accompanied by a landmark two-way meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr Kerry underlined on Sunday that while the diplomatic window was "cracking open", Washington was serious about never allowing room for a nuclear-armed Iran.
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