Iran Touts 'New Initiatives' for Nuclear Talks
Iran said Wednesday it will present "new initiatives" at upcoming nuclear talks with the so-called P5+1 in Istanbul on April 15.
Iranian state media reported that Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili would present new proposals, but did not give specifics.
Jalili also warned that what he called attempts to us the “language of force” against Iran would be “useless” and would "backfire."
He added that Iran believes the talks should be based on “mutual cooperation.”
Representatives from the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – have made it clear they expect Iran to meet its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
As an NPT signatory Iran is obligated to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors full access to its nuclear facilities, which Iran has refused to do.
Officials in Washington and Jerusalem have indicated they expect Iran to halt its controversial uranium enrichment program if it wants to avoid preemptive military strikes on its nuclear program.
Iran on Monday confirmed it would return to nuclear talks, but rejected any "preconditions."
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday went so far as to say Tehran would "punch the West in the mouth" if Washington and their allies sought to impose their will on Iran.
Nonetheless, key officials in Tehran – which is languishing under crippling economic sanctions – have already indicated willingness to compromise.
Mohammad Javad Larijani – a key advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – said last month that the West should accept Iran's "peaceful nuclear program," sell Iran 20 percent enriched uranium, and provide the customary assistance nuclear nations provide to those building nuclear power plants.
In return for cooperation from the West Iran would offer "full transparency," Larijani said.
He did not say Iran would halt uranium enrichment – a key demand by Jerusalem and Washington to avoid military strikes – but observers say the stipulation that the West provide 20% enriched uranium indicates Iran is open to doing so.
Western powers charge Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran denies.
However, in early March, the head of the IAEA said there were indications that Iran was engaged in the development of nuclear weapons.
"Iran is not telling us everything. That is my impression. We are asking Iran to engage with us proactively, and Iran has a case to answer," said IAEA director Yukiya Amano.
His remarks followed two recent IAEA reports that indicated Iran had sought – and likely continues to seek – nuclear technologies of a military nature.
IAEA experts previously reported Iran's production of 20% enriched uranium is far greater than needed for peaceful purposes. They also note Iran's medical research sector is not sufficiently advanced to justify such production.
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak – both said to be proponents of a strike on Iran – have expressed deep skepticism about the outcome of the upcoming talks.
"I don't believe that this amount of sanctions and pressure will bring the Iranian leadership to the conclusion that they have to stop their nuclear military program," Barak told CNN on Sunday.