World powers press Iran on nuclear issues during talks

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“The Iranians are doing it for domestic cohesion between the conservative faction, which has been badly polarized,” he said. “(It also) improves (Iran‘s) image and standing with its allies in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq by portraying it as a regional superpower who can bring the five major powers of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany to the table.”

He called the talks “very useful” for the West because they allowed President Obama “to impose the toughest sanctions against Iran to date and to isolate Iran in an unprecedented manner.”

Nations have a right to enrich uranium domestically, and Iran insists it is doing so only to make fuel and not to make fissile warhead material. But international concerns are strong because Tehran developed its enrichment program clandestinely and because it refuses to cooperate with an IAEA probe following up suspicions that it experimented with a nuclear weapons program — something Iran denies.

Bilateral sessions filled up much of Monday’s afternoon talks, but officials refused to say whether they included one between Mr. Jalili and U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns and their delegations.

But, underlining its commitment to enrichment, Iran on Sunday announced it had delivered its first domestically mined raw uranium to a processing facility.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and the country’s vice president, said Iran for the first time had delivered domestically mined raw uranium to a processing facility — allowing it to bypass U.N. sanctions prohibiting import of the material.

Mr. Salehi said Iran was now self-sufficient over the entire nuclear fuel cycle — from extracting uranium ore to enriching it and producing nuclear fuel.

Since Iran’s clandestine enrichment program was discovered eight years ago, Iran has resisted both rewards and four sets of increasingly harsh U.N. sanctions meant to force it to freeze its enrichment program.

Israel has threatened to attack Iran, even though Israel is believed to have stockpiled more than 200 nuclear weapons and it is not a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said it was up to Iran to restore trust about its nuclear intentions, urging it to come to Geneva prepared to “firmly, conclusively reject the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

But for Iran, the main issues are peace, prosperity — and nuclear topics only in the context of global disarmament.

Iran has not and will not allow anybody in the talks to withdraw one iota of the rights of the Iranian nation,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said beforehand.

Frank Jordans in Geneva, Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran, Joe Federman in Jerusalem and Elena Becatoros in Athens contributed to this story.

 

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