World powers will present Iran with an updated and "good" offer at talks this week on its nuclear program, an EU official said Monday, although hopes for a breakthrough appear slim, AFP reports.
Talks aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear drive start Tuesday in Kazakhstan, with the so-called P5+1 represented by the European Union sitting down with an Iranian team led by negotiator Saeed Jalili.
"We have prepared a good and updated offer for the talks, which we believe is balanced and a fair basis for constructive talks," said the spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, according to AFP.
"The offer addresses international concerns... on the nature of the Iranian nuclear program, but is also responsive to Iranian ideas,” he added.
"We hope that Iran will seize this opportunity and come to the talks with flexibility and commitment to make concrete progress towards a confidence-building step."
A source close to the negotiations said the offer would still insist that Iran halt enriching uranium to 20 percent, shut down its controversial Fordow uranium enrichment plant and send abroad all uranium already enriched to 20 percent.
"This still forms the basis of the demands of the 5+1 group," said the source who asked not to be identified.
Another Western source said, according to AFP, that the powers could discuss lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for specific concessions, although the source provided no further details.
In Washington, a top U.S. official refused to be drawn on the details of what he called a "serious, updated proposal" to Iran saying "we need to let the negotiators do their jobs."
But State Department acting deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell revealed that the proposal "does include reciprocal measures" to encourage Iran "to make concrete steps to begin addressing the international community's concerns."
Earlier reports said the P5+1 group could consider easing sanctions on Iran's gold and precious metals trade.
World powers have until now wanted Iran to take the first step and only then reward it by easing the various sanctions regimes in place.
However, Iranian negotiator Jalili said at the weekend that Tehran would not go beyond its obligations or accept anything outside its rights under the non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
"We don't expect any breakthrough. The Iranians have made different declarations in the last days. It depends if you take the positive or the negative ones," said one Western official who asked not to be identified.
An Iranian lawmaker, meanwhile, rejected on Sunday the idea of partial lifting of the sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Speaking to the Iranian Al-Alam TV network, the Chairman for the Committee of Foreign Policy and National Security of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly, Alaeddin Boroujerdi said that the West should not expect Iran to alter its nuclear program as long as there are still sanctions against the country.
“This is not logical at all,” he said, adding that all sanctions against Iran must be removed if the Islamic Republic is to suspend its nuclear energy program uranium enrichment.
Boroujerdi said Iran needs to pursue its program for answering its future energy needs and that for some of them, 20% enriched uranium was not sufficient.
He said, “Iran needs some additional 20 thousand megawatts of energy in the next 20 years and as long as our nation’s energy needs are not satisfied, we cannot stand still.”
Boroujerdi previously indicated that the Fordow underground site will never be shut down, claiming that making Iran shut it down “means helping the Zionist regime to carry out its threats and threaten our facilities. Although the Zionist regime would never dare to do so, we should not create conditions in the country to tempt the enemy.”