Iran eases demands for nuclear capacity at Vienna talks

Iran eases demands for nuclear capacity at Vienna talks - Western diplomats

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has reduced demands for the size of its future nuclear enrichment programme in talks with world powers although Western governments are urging Tehran to compromise further, Western diplomats close to the negotiations said on Thursday.

The diplomats, who spoke to Reuters at the start of a two-week round of negotiations between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, said that despite some movement from Tehran it would not be easy to clinch a deal by their self-imposed deadline for a deal of July 20.

Tehran's shift relates to the main sticking point in the talks - the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges Iran will maintain if a deal is reached to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for a gradual end of sanctions. Ending the decade-long dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions is seen as instrumental to defusing tension and averting a new Middle East war.

"Iran has reduced the number of centrifuges it wants but the number is still unacceptably high," a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity and without further detail.

On Wednesday a senior Iranian official told Reuters that Tehran has refused to back down from its demand to maintain 50,000 operational centrifuges, a figure deemed by Western officials to be out of keeping with Iran's stated need for a strictly civilian nuclear energy programme.

Iran, a major oil producer, says it plans a future network of nuclear power plants to diversify its energy supply, though just completing one of them would take many years, analysts say.

"Iran needs at least 50,000 centrifuges and not 49,999," the Iranian official said. "We will not compromise on that ... The other party is talking about a few thousands and this is unacceptable for Iran."

That figure has been in the public domain for some time. The head of Tehran's atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, said months ago that the Natanz enrichment plant alone would need 50,000 advanced centrifuges going forward.

But the Western diplomats said that behind closed doors Iran was no longer insisting on 50,000 machines. It had signalled it would settle for a lower figure but declined to be specify the number so as not to disrupt the negotiations.

Iran now has over 19,000 centrifuges, though only around 10,000 of those are running. The powers want that number cut to the low thousands, to ensure Iran cannot quickly produce enough high-enriched uranium for a bomb, should it choose to do so.

Tehran denies allegations from Western powers and their allies that it is developing a nuclear-weapons capability behind the screen of a declared civilian atomic energy programme.

Exclusive - Iran eases demands for nuclear capacity at Vienna talks - Western diplomats (external - login to view)
Europe needs their NG dearly, with sanctions eased they stand to gain big. They aren't a nuclear threat and are trying to get away from the Neo-Bolsheviks who are carving out a new piece of the Eurasian pie with Israel as an ally.
Iran will acquire the same nuclear weapon breakout capacity as Japan and South Korea. That essentially makes Iran a nuclear weapons state.
Well figuring they will soon be involved in a ground war in Iraq they'll need all the support they can get.
no new posts