Iran nuclear talks: Why all sides kept positive
The talks Saturday between Iran and six major powers featured the most positive atmosphere in nearly a decade.
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Veterans of Iran's past negotiation teams said they could not remember such positive messages, since perhaps the 2003 talks at which Iran agreed with European negotiators to suspend their nascent enrichment program – as they did until 2005.Skip to next paragraph
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But that glow from both sides on Saturday was only an opening gambit, said one Iranian diplomat close to the talks. At future sessions, he said, "It is going to be very difficult."
At stake in the second round in Baghdad will be Iran's small but growing stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium – which is just a few technical steps off the 90 percent needed for weapons – but which Iran says it is producing because that level is required for fuel for a small reactor in Tehran producing medical isotopes for 800,000 patients.
Iranian officials have said they can limit that 20 percent work once they have enough for the fuel, which the West has not yet agreed to sell to Iran.
Iran has much larger stockpiles of 3.5 percent low-enriched uranium, suitable for fuel for power reactors. The P5+1 will almost certainly try to put caps on that work in any deal.
Khamenei: nukes a sin
One new feature of the talks, and of the European press spin, have been recent statements by Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declaring nuclear weapons a sin.
Ayatollah Khamenei has stated that many times over many years, even issuing a fatwa in 2005 saying that making or stockpiling nuclear weapons was un-Islamic. But until now those declarations have had little apparent effect on US and European decision-makers.
As Jalili prepared to address a press conference after the talks on Saturday, aides hung a large canvas banner behind the podium, with pictures of five nuclear scientists assassinated in Tehran in the last two years.
Above a map of Iran was written a common official slogan: "Nuclear energy for all; nuclear weapons for none."
Jalili then described the talks as "successful," and noted that Khamenei's fatwa was "welcomed" by the P5+1.
That statement "opposing the use and production of nuclear bombs was highlighted by the other side," said Jalili. "They consider it valuable and it creates an opportunity and capacity for cooperation on international disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation."
Iran's interpretation of the agreed NPT framework was all-inclusive, Jalili added. "Any rights indicated in the NPT should be respected; uranium enrichment is one of these rights that every individual member should benefit from and enjoy for peaceful purposes."
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