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Terrorism & Security

Tehran's No. 1 demand for Iran nuclear talks in Moscow

In the buildup to next week's Iran nuclear talks in Moscow, Tehran has demanded that Western powers formally acknowledge its right to enrich uranium.

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The P5+1 has suggested that Iran cease enrichment and ship its stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country in exchange for a promise from the West to provide it with any 20 percent enrichment uranium needed for civilian purposes.

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Middle East Editor

Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog. 

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But Iran sees such proposals as biased and stemming not only from security concerns but also antipathy toward the Iranian government.

Javad Jahangirzadeh, a member of the parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, chastised the P5+1 in parliament yesterday for its "double-standard" when dealing with Iran, saying, the P5+1 "has no right to treat us outside norms." 

The chairman of the committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, described the West's demands as "politically motivated" and issued a direct warning: "Undoubtedly, the US and the West have been the losing sides of this game and they had better not continue this game," he said, according to Iran's Fars News Agency.

For any concessions on the right to enrich uranium, Iran has demanded a lifting of Western economic and oil sanctions.

Yesterday Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, said that the Iranian negotiating team should show no "leniency" on the issue of uranium enrichment, according to a separate report from the Tehran Times. 

“The nuclear negotiating team has no right to show leniency in regard to the Iranian nation’s rights,” said Mr. Larijani, who was formerly Iran's top nuclear negotiator. “In relation to the degree of enrichment, Iran can determine the degree as it wishes, and this issue is no obstacle to the progress of our nuclear technology [program].” 

Iran announced earlier this week that it is preparing to produce a nuclear-powered submarine, which would require weapons-grade fuel. The Wall Street Journal reports that the US, Israel, and UN nuclear watchdog "have long worried" that Iran would do something like this that would give them a reason to enrich uranium to 90 percent or more.

But Iran is seen as far from capable of producing a nuclear submarine at this point and some analysts see the announcement as simply an attempt to gain negotiating leverage for the Moscow talks.

"One of the few if only civilian pretexts for weapon-grade uranium are nuclear submarines, so it was fairly predictable that Iran would announce its desire to build them," Karim Sadjadpour, an expert on Iran at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the WSJ. "The gap between Iran's bluster and its capabilities, especially prior to negotiations, is wider than the Strait of Hormouz."

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