Fresh Iran nuclear talks agreed with world powers – EU
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes
6 March 2012 Last updated at 14:00
Six major world powers and Iran are to hold fresh talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme, the EU has said.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she had replied to a letter from Iran on behalf of the five UN Security Council members plus Germany.
Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili sent the letter last month proposing talks. No date or venue has been set.
The move comes amid fresh speculation of a pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Iran insists there is no military element to its programme but Western powers fear it is constructing nuclear weapons.
The statement from Baroness Ashton said the EU hoped that Iran would “now enter into a sustained process of constructive dialogue which will deliver real progress in resolving the international community’s long-standing concerns on its nuclear programme.”
It added: “Our overall goal remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”
Iran had earlier said it was prepared under certain conditions to grant inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to the key military site of Parchin.
The complex, south of Tehran, is dedicated to the research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and explosives.
IAEA inspectors wanted to visit last month to clarify the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear programme, but were denied entry.
But on Monday, Iran’s mission to the IAEA said if the UN agency “combined all related issues” then “once more, access would be granted”.
Talks between the EU and Iran on the nuclear issue have been off and on for a number of years, with the last round ending in failure in January last year.
Baroness Ashton had written to Mr Jalili last October with an offer of new talks.
On Monday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, on a visit to the US, said time was running out to put a stop to Iran’s nuclear programme, warning Israel would “not live in the shadow of annihilation”.
He stressed that all options were on the table, but that containment – leaving Iran to develop its programme under monitoring – was “not an option”.
US President Barack Obama has also said that all options are open, but that there is still time for diplomacy.