US insists Iran talks will include nuclear issue
Iran appears to be backing down from its refusal to discuss its nuclear program.
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While the forthcoming talks – which would include British, French, German, Russian, and Chinese officials – signify an important diplomatic shift in Iran-US relations, US officials say their expectations for any major breakthroughs are "extremely low."
Iran said this weekend that it will only discuss its contentious nuclear program "should conditions be ripe," an apparent climbdown from its refusal to discuss the issue at all. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said his country would never stop its production of enriched uranium.
The US insists it will raise the topic during any talks. "This may not have been a topic that they wanted to be brought up but I can assure that it's a topic that we'll bring up," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Saturday.
Mr. Obama has expressed interest in reopening the channels of communication between Iran and the US since his 2008 presidential candidacy, but The Times of London reports that indications that Russia would not support any new sanctions regarding Iran's nuclear program helped bring Americans to the table at this particular moment.
As officials work to set a date for the talks, the continued US focus on Iran's nuclear program has irked many Iranians who insist the program is for power generation only, not weapons. In an article titled "US to hold talks with Iran with cliché mentality" on the website of Iran's state-funded Press TV, the news agency highlighted recent United Nations reports that confirmed the country is not developing nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, it criticized US officials who persist in discussing the issue.
[Obama's] administration has taken a stance against Iran's peaceful nuclear program signaling that Washington's politicians will attend the talks with their minds already made up.
Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said on Saturday that "since the beginning of the Iranian nuclear case, Washington has misjudged the situation, drawn up a wrong strategy, and tried to feed it to other states."