Daily Telegraph: The six leading world powers that have spearheaded efforts to persuade Iran to cease suspect atomic research said yesterday that Tehran would be invited to engage in a new round of talks.
The Daily Telegraph
Iran is to be offered a fresh package of inducements to abandon its illicit nuclear programme.
By Damien McElroy Foreign Affairs Correspondent
The six leading world powers that have spearheaded efforts to persuade Iran to cease suspect atomic research said yesterday that Tehran would be invited to engage in a new round of talks.
Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, was charged with drafting a letter to Tehran that would open talks with the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain. In a statement the group said Tehran would be invited to a meeting to find "a diplomatic solution to this critical issue" in the spirit of US President Barack Obama's push for a "new beginning" in ties with the Islamic republic.
"We strongly urge Iran to take advantage of this opportunity to engage seriously with all of us in a spirit of mutual respect," the contact group, known as EU3+3 said. "To that end, we shall ask [Solana] to extend an invitation to the Iranian government to meet representatives of the E3+3."
The United Nations Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran after it was found to have violated international accords on the spread of nuclear weapons.
Iran maintains it has a right to pursue nuclear research and there is no proof it is enriching atomic material to weapons-grade level. But the rapid expansion of its nuclear programme and failure to satisfy inspections has heightened suspicions that the country is determined to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Efforts to lure Iran into an agreement to abandon its research already include generous offers of advanced nuclear power facilities and wide trade concessions. Mr Obama has declared his hopes to transform bilateral ties with Iran, which were cut after the revolution three decades ago.
While "warmly welcoming" the new direction from Washington, the group reaffirmed its "dual track" strategy – combining tightening sanctions with the prize of economic and political co-operation.
Despite the overtures, Iran has maintained a bellicose defence of its activities and is prepared to proclaim that it has mastered efforts to produce nuclear fuel by refining uranium.
The state-owned news agency, IRNA, reported that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country's hard-line president, would make the announcement today during a visit to the Natanz nuclear plant, the site at the centre of its dispute. Iran plans a lavish ceremony at Natanz mark its "National Nuclear Day".
"I will have good nuclear news for the respectful Iranian nation
tomorrow," Mr Ahmadinejad said in Isfahan, where Iranian scientists operate a plant to produce nuclear fuel rods.
The most recent International Atomic Energy Agency report said it could not verify that another Iranian plant, the Arak heavy water reactor, was designed for peaceful use.