One day after Almaty, Kazakhstan Talks Ali Baqeri, Iran’s Deputy Senior Negotiator in nuclear talks with the so called P5+1 group comprising the United State, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, said in an interview with Iranian state TV that his country expects the group “to officially announce that they recognize Iran’s Nuclear rights.”
On February 27th after 2 days of negotiations, Iran and P5+1 agreed to hold talks on March 18th in Istanbul with experts from the two parties to attend and discuss technical issues of the offers made during Almaty talks; they also agreed that senior political directors will meet again in Almaty, Kazakhstan to resume talks.
European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton refused to talk about the details of the P5+1 proposal as the offer is being reviewed by Iranians and experts.
However some American media quoted a senior American diplomat whose name remained unknown as having said that the 6 powers proposal to Iran include curbing 20% uranium enrichment, restraining activities at Fordow nuclear site located somewhere close to the city of Qom in exchange for some sanction relief particularly on Iran’s petrochemical exports.
The P5+1 “has not asked for the shutting down of Fordow plant,” Saeed Jalili, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council who leads the country’s team of negotiators with the P5+1, told journalists after the two-day talks ended.
‘”Fordow is a legal and fully recognized plan for the IAEA and operates under its supervision. IAEA studies its activities and it works completely based on the agency’s rules and there is no justification for the closure of the plant,” he added.
Iranian experts who have reviewed the Almaty offer in Tehran say: ‘P5+1 has proposed the six months suspension of enrichment activities in Fordow plant in exchange for suspension of sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports and gold trading.’
Iran has mentioned recognition of the country’s “right for enrichment” as a signatory of the NPT, Iran’s main demand from the P5+1 in order to resume talks but had described the degree of the enrichment as “according to needs” and “negotiable” .
Although Jalili called the six powers’ proposal in Almaty “an effort to get closer to Iran’s standpoints” and “positive”, he urged that “we have a long way to reach.”
Catherine Ashton said: “The offer addresses international concerns on the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, but is also responsive to Iranian ideas.”
Almaty talks received a great deal of attention in Iran and most Iranian media described it a “victory for Iran” and “West’s withdrawal from its previous stands”
Kazem Sediqi, Speaker of Friday Prayer of 1 March defined Almaty talks as demonstrating Iran’s “stable and consistent stance”.
He stated that “Iran’s degree of enrichment is not any other country’s affair and the Iranian nation will benefit from their basic rights as per their needs and are not scared of any power.”
The long-term suspension of uranium enrichment in 2004 and while the reformist government of Iran was in power had always received serious criticism from the country’s Supreme Leader and “suspension of enrichment” has turned into a redline whose acceptance equals surrender and admitting defeat.
“The administration of [Khatami] due to lack of authority-based reasoning and initiatives, had surrendered to west’s demands and IAEA’s and this lead the agency to issue 6 different resolutions against our country at the time,” said Ali Baqeri.
Nonetheless Iran’s team of negotiators and state senior officials have recurrently insisted that the 20% enrichment is only aimed at fulfilling medical needs of Tehran’s nuclear reactor and through developing other means of accomplishing such fulfillment, this degree of uranium enrichment can be halted. Thus Iran would continue its enrichment activities with a 5% degree afterwards.
It should be reminded that Iran has not accepted Almaty offers yet and has merely called it a positive step; as it has been stated in the Iranian statement on Almaty talks, “We consider these talks a positive step which could be completed by taking a positive and constructive approach and taking reciprocal steps. “
Therefore the expert talks to be held on March 18th in Istanbul bear great significance. The two teams are to discuss the details of the presented proposals in order to make it clear what steps each team would take.