x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Iran nuclear talks likely in Turkey

Negotiations between world powers and Tehran on Iran's nuclear programme scheduled for October 1 will most likely take place in Turkey.

BRUSSELS // Negotiations between world powers and Tehran on Iran's nuclear programme scheduled for October 1 will most likely take place in Turkey, the chief Western negotiator said today. "It has not been finally decided, but I think very likely it will be Turkey," the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who has headed the Western negotiating effort with Iran, told reporters in Brussels when asked where the talks would take place.

Mr Solana said Western policy remained "twin track" ? to offer incentives to Iran to abandon a nuclear programme the West suspects is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, while holding out the threat of further sanctions. But he said now was not the time to talk about fresh sanctions. "At this point in time we are going to try to enter into negotiations," he said. "Let's talk about that." Iran has agreed to wide-ranging talks with six world powers but has ruled out discussing its nuclear activities, which it says are for peaceful generation of electricity.

The United States and the European Union insist Tehran's nuclear efforts must be the focus of the talks. Mr Solana, who has been representing the six powers ? the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia ? in long-running efforts to resolve the row with Iran, was cautious when ask how much he thought the new talks could achieve. "I always intend to try and achieve as much as possible in the negotiations. But it is not the first time we meet. We know each other well," he said.

However, he added, "There are some things that are new: the Americans will be present in a formalised manner; that is new, and I think that has to be evaluated positively by the Iranians." A senior Iranian official said on Monday Iran would not negotiate on its "sovereign right" to nuclear energy but, if that were recognised, Iran was ready to discuss any issue at the talks, including ways of upholding non-proliferation globally.

On Monday, a senior US official called Iran's agreement to enter talks an "important first step", but the White House said Iran would show its failure to meet its international obligations if it sticks to its refusal to discuss its nuclear programme. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday Iran's continued refusal of IAEA access to clarify intelligence material suggesting Iran illicitly researched how to design a nuclear weapon was unacceptable.

* Reuters