Powers want 'quick' results in Iran talks
Vienna, March 5, 2013
Six world powers will call for quick and concrete results in nuclear negotiations with Iran that have resumed after an eight-month break, according to a draft joint statement obtained by Reuters on Tuesday.
The draft being considered by the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain described last week's talks with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan, as "useful" and said diplomacy would be pursued actively in the coming months.
The two sides are due to meet again in early April at the same venue for another round of political discussions, after expert level talks in Istanbul later this month.
"We seek tangible results in this diplomatic process at an early stage," said the statement, expected to be delivered at a board meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog on Wednesday.
"We reaffirm our continuing support for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," it said.
It was unclear whether it was the final version to be read out at this week's meeting of the 35-nation governing board of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog.
One diplomat said China had yet to formally approve it and suggested there could still be some changes in the text.
The draft said the powers were "deeply concerned that Iran continues to undertake certain nuclear activities" contrary to UN Security Council resolutions, including recent steps to install more advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges.
The relatively mild language used in the one-page statement reflected an apparent compromise between the four Western states on the one hand and Russia and China on the other.
Moscow and Beijing have in the past criticised unilateral Western sanctions on Tehran, and have tended to be less harsh in their public statements.
Western diplomats said the most important was to demonstrate big power unity on the Iran nuclear issue.
US Vice President Joe Biden said on Monday that President Barack Obama was not bluffing about using force to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions if all else fails, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a "credible military threat" against Tehran.
Iran denies Western and Israeli allegations that it is seeking the capability to make nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear programme is an entirely peaceful project to generate electricity.
But its refusal to curb atomic activity that can have both military and civilian purposes, and its lack of full openness with UN inspectors, have been met with increasingly tough US and European punitive measures against the major oil producer.
Israel, Iran's arch-enemy, which is convinced that it is secretly trying to develop a nuclear weapon, has grown impatient with the protracted talks and has threatened pre-emptive war against Tehran if it deems that diplomacy has failed.
Iran was upbeat last week after talks with the powers in Kazakhstan about its nuclear work ended with an agreement to meet again. But Western officials said it had yet to take concrete steps to ease their fears about its atomic ambitions. - Reuters