AP: Talks with Iran on a Russian proposal aimed at resolving an international crisis over Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program are not going easily, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.
By AIDA SULTANOVA
Associated Press Writer
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) – Talks with Iran on a Russian proposal aimed at resolving an international crisis over Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program are not going easily, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.
“The talks are not going easily but we are counting on reaching a positive result,” Putin told journalists on a visit to Azerbaijan.
The Russian leader said that the Kremlin’s offer to enrich uranium for Tehran to avert suspicions that the Iranians could divert the nuclear fuel for atomic weapons should be “perfectly acceptable” to Iran and could be used as “a means to solve the problem.”
“We are not losing optimism,” said Putin. “We are waiting for a final response from the Iranian negotiators and we hope for a positive result.”
The two countries’ negotiators on Tuesday completed two days of inconclusive talks in Moscow on the Russian initiative.
Russian newspapers on Wednesday cited Iranian officials as saying that Iran was not ready to accept Russia’s plan because Tehran insisted on the right to conduct its own enrichment activities.
“There are no reasons at this stage to resume dialogue,” the Vedomosti daily quoted an official close to the Iranian delegation as saying.
Tehran’s top negotiator, Ali Hosseinitash, labeled the Moscow meeting “positive and constructive,” but some Russians voiced concern that Iran was using the proposed Kremlin compromise to stall for time and avert international sanctions.
The Russian proposal, backed by the United States and the European Union, is seen as the final opportunity to ease international concerns over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons drive. Tehran has rejected calls to resume a freeze on domestic uranium enrichment.
The U.N nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, holds a March 6 meeting that could start a process leading to punishment by the U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to impose sanctions on Iran.