Iran Nuclear NewsIran says wants atom talks

Iran says wants atom talks

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Reuters: Iran wants a negotiated solution to its nuclear standoff with world powers but this must recognize an Iranian right to a peaceful nuclear programme, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Thursday. By Jane Barrett

MADRID (Reuters) – Iran wants a negotiated solution to its nuclear standoff with world powers but this must recognize an Iranian right to a peaceful nuclear programme, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Thursday.

Four Western powers, Russia and China discussed elements of a new U.N. resolution by telephone on Thursday to pressure Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can yield nuclear fuel for either power plants or bombs.

New steps could include a travel ban on senior Iranian officials and some limits on non-nuclear business.

But diplomats said a U.S. push for an arms embargo on Iran was unacceptable to Russia and Germany wanted to drop the idea.

“A wish list of incrementally increased sanctions has been circulated but the discussion is nowhere near mature and this will not go to the (U.N.) Security Council for 2-3 more weeks,” an EU diplomat said. Another said: “It will be a long process.”

Tehran wants to negotiate without bowing to a demand to first stop enriching uranium. Washington and leading European nations say they suspect Iran, the world’s fourth biggest oil producer, has a covert atomic bomb agenda.

“Everybody insists on a negotiated solution to this issue … so we are suggesting to various parties that these negotiations go forward,” Mottaki told reporters in Madrid after talks with Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos.

“We should be allowed back to the negotiating table to put forward our arguments before the media and the people,” he said.

“We believe that the time has arrived to take things calmly and find peace. The U.S. reasoning that they can have nuclear weapons and others can’t have nuclear energy is not valid.”

U.S. PRESSURE

Officials from the five permanent Security Council members — the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain — plus Germany, said in London on Monday they were also committed to a negotiated resolution to the standoff.

But Washington, which says “all options” are on the table while insisting it wants a peaceful solution, has ratcheted up pressure by sending a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf.

Along with Russia, China has been among the powers most reluctant to contemplate sanctions or coercion beyond a ban on nuclear technology or know-how imposed on Tehran in December, saying that would only corner Iran and provoke conflict.

A senior Iranian diplomat was due to hold talks with Chinese officials in Beijing that would cover the nuclear dispute as China repeated its plea for a negotiated settlement.

“The international community should exercise calm and restraint and continue applying diplomatic efforts, including outside the Security Council, to promote the revival of negotiations as early as possible,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told a news conference in Beijing that France was trying to find common ground between the various Security Council members.

An aide to European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana told a European Parliament committee EU nations were reluctant to cancel non-nuclear contracts as Washington wanted.

“That would imply very negative consequences for our economies as well,” said Annalisa Giannella, Solana’s envoy on non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction.

(Additional reporting by Chris Buckley and Tamora Vidaillet in Beijing, David Brunnstrom in Brussels, Mark Heinrich in Vienna and Louis Charbonneau in Berlin)

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