Iran promises ‘new initiatives’ at Istanbul nuclear talks

Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr. (Fars)

TEHRAN (JWN and agencies—The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) announced Wednesday that the Islamic Republic intends to offer “new initiatives” at the coming weekend’s nuclear talks in Istanbul, according to the official IRNA news agency.

SNSC chief Saeed Jalili, who is also Iran’s head negotiator, said “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.”

Iran’s English-language state television, Press TV, reported Jalili as saying, “We are ready to hold progressive and successful talks on cooperation. The language of threat and pressure against the Iranian nation has never yielded results, but will lead to more seriousness in the attitude of the Iranian nation.”

No details were given about the “new initiatives,” which are to be presented at a new round of nuclear talks in Istanbul on April 13-14. The P5 countries are the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and the People’s Republic of China, with the additional country Germany.

The Iranian press has been full of articles about the nuclear issue, centering on the limit to the enrichment process being sought by the West to ensure the Islamic Republic does not develop nuclear weapons. Iran has already enriched a certain amount of uranium to 20 percent purity, above which is considered a short route to weapons grade.

IRNA reported that Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization chief Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani said Sunday that the country would carry out 20 percent uranium enrichment “just for its own needs” and not beyond that. However, Abbasi-Davani added that Iran wants to stockpile the enriched fuel.

Abbasi-Davani explained that this is because Iran might build a research reactor for medical isotopes, where the remaining enriched fuel might be used. Iran has used some of the 20 percent enriched uranium to refuel a small nuclear reactor in Tehran used to make medical isotopes.

Iran’s state media played down reports that the country was moving toward improving relations with the US. The semi-official Fars News Agency reported that Chief of Staff Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi “categorically denied” that former president Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had called on Iranian leaders to resume talks with the US.

“It is America who is strangling itself to open negotiations with Iran,” Firouzabadi said.

Meanwhile, Iran’s English-language state television reported on Tuesday that Iran has cut oil exports to Spain and may halt sales to Germany and Italy. The move is an apparent bid to strengthen its position ahead of the PO5+1 talks.

“Tehran has cut oil supply to Spain after stopping crude export to Greece as part of its counter-sanctions,” Press TV said, citing unidentified sources, adding that a similar move was being considered for Germany and Italy.

The cut-off was apparently an empty gesture. Spain’s biggest refiner said it had already replaced its Iranian crude with oil from Saudi Arabia several months ago.

Negotiations between Iran and the six world powers aimed at easing the nuclear stalemate are to resume in Istanbul on Saturday, more than a year after the previous talks failed.