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Iran Nuke Talks Solving Some Issues    03/29 11:17

   Iran is considering demands for further cuts to its uranium enrichment 
program but is pushing back on how long it must limit technology it could use 
to make atomic arms, Western officials involved in the nuclear talks said 
Sunday.

   LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) -- Iran is considering demands for further cuts 
to its uranium enrichment program but is pushing back on how long it must limit 
technology it could use to make atomic arms, Western officials involved in the 
nuclear talks said Sunday.

   Tuesday is the deadline for a preliminary agreement meant to set the stage 
for a further round of negotiations toward a comprehensive deal in June. The 
goal is a long-term curb on Iran's nuclear activities. In return, Tehran would 
gain relief from the burden of global economic penalties.

   Foreign ministers and other representatives of Iran and the six powers in 
the talks have said there is a chance of succeeding by the deadline despite 
significant obstacles.

   White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it was up to Iran to make that 
happen.

   By accepting the restrictions, the Iranians would "live up to their rhetoric 
that they are not trying to acquire a nuclear weapon," he said in Washington on 
ABC's "This Week."

   From Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu renewed strong criticism of 
what he brands a bad deal. He is at the forefront of accusations that Iran 
helped the recent Shiite rebel advance in Yemen, and Netanyahu linked Iran's 
alleged proxy grab for influence in the Middle East with what he sees as 
victory by Tehran at the negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

   "The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous for humanity and must be 
stopped," he said.

   U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, heading a delegation of 
American senators visiting Israel, said the lawmakers supported legislation to 
require Congress to approve any agreement on Iran's nuclear program, or to 
increase penalties against Iran if no deal is reached.

   The officials in Lausanne said the sides were advancing on limits to aspects 
of Iran's uranium enrichment program, which can be used to make the core of a 
nuclear warhead.

   Over the past weeks, Iran has moved from demanding that it be allowed to 
keep nearly 10,000 centrifuges enriching uranium, to agreeing to 6,000.

   The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not 
authorized to publicly discuss the talks, said Tehran now may be ready to 
accept even fewer.

   Tehran is ready to ship to Russia all the enriched uranium it produces, the 
officials said, describing a change from previous demands that Iran be 
permitted to keep a small amount in stock.

   One official cautioned that Iran previously had agreed to this, only to 
change its mind. Also, Iran's official IRNA news agency on Sunday cited an 
unidentified Iranian negotiator as denying such an agreement had been reached.

   Uranium enrichment has been the chief concern in over more than a decade of 
international attempts to cap Iran's nuclear programs.

   Tehran says it wants to enrich only for energy, science, industry and 
medicine. But many countries fear Iran could use the technology to make 
weapons-grade uranium.

   The United States and its allies want a deal that extends the time Iran 
would need to make a nuclear weapon from the present two months to three months 
to at least a year.

   The officials said a main dispute involves the length of an agreement. Iran, 
they said, wants a total lifting of all caps on its activities after 10 years, 
while the U.S. and others at the talks --- Russia, China, Britain, France and 
Germany --- insist on progressive removal after a decade.

   A senior U.S. official characterized the issue as lack of agreement on what 
happens in years 11 to 15. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line 
with State Department rules on briefing about the closed-door talks.

   Limits on Iran's research and development of centrifuges also were 
unresolved, the Western officials said.

   Tehran has created a prototype centrifuge that it says enriches uranium 16 
times faster than its present mainstay model. The U.S. and its partners want to 
constrain research that would increase greatly the speed of making enough 
weapons-grade uranium for a bomb, once limits on Iran's programs are lifted.

   One official said Russia opposed the U.S. position that any U.N. penalties 
lifted in the course of a deal should be reimposed quickly if Tehran reneged on 
any commitments.

   Both Western officials Iran was resisting attempts to make inspections and 
other ways of verification as intrusive as possible.

   There was tentative agreement on turning a nearly-finished reactor into a 
model that gives off less plutonium waste than originally envisaged. Plutonium, 
like enriched uranium, is a path to nuclear weapons.

   Iran and the U.S. were discussing letting Iran run centrifuges at an 
underground bunker that has been used to enrich uranium. The machines would 
produce isotopes for peaceful applications, the officials said.

   With the Tuesday deadline approaching and problems remaining, U.S. Secretary 
of State John Kerry canceled plans Sunday to return to the United States for an 
event honoring the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. French Foreign Minister 
Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his German counterpart, scratched 
planned trips to Kazakhstan.

   Kerry has been in discussions with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad 
Zarif since Thursday.


(KA)


 
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