By Marcus George / Reuters
DUBAI: Iran will present new proposals at talks on Saturday aimed at easing concerns about its nuclear activity, state television said, but it was unclear if Tehran was willing to address its disputed uranium enrichment drive as six world powers want.
It was the latest apparent attempt to strengthen Iran’s position ahead of the talks, which the powers insists must tackle its higher-grade enrichment activities seen in the West as a disguised effort to develop nuclear weapons capability.
The Islamic Republic says the program is solely for power generation and medical needs.
“Iran’s representatives will participate in the negotiations with new initiatives and we hope that the P5+1 countries will also enter talks with constructive approaches,” said the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, according to English-language news network Press TV.
Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, said it was “ready to hold progressive and successful talks on cooperation” but that “the language of threat and pressure against the Iranian nation has never yielded results.”
Previous rounds of talks – the last was in January 2011 – foundered in part because of Iran’s refusal to negotiate on the scope of its enrichment work, instead floating general proposals for trade and security cooperation.
In February Jalili wrote to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton saying Iran would put forward new initiatives in any future talks but did not spell out what they were.
On Monday, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, raised the possibility of Iran suspending enrichment to the 20 percent level of fissile purity if its needs were met.
The proposal did not address Western concerns about what would happen to Iran’s existing stockpile of higher-grade enrichment uranium.
Uranium needs to be refined only to the 5 percent level for use in running power plants. A 90 percent threshold is required for atomic bomb material. Iran says it needs a 20 percent stockpile to fuel a medical isotope reactor. Western powers fear Iran’s underlying goal is to advanced towards bomb-grade purity.