Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Talks Stall with Iran over Nuclear Program ; New Round Tentatively Set as World Powers Attempt to Keep Process on Track

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Talks Stall with Iran over Nuclear Program ; New Round Tentatively Set as World Powers Attempt to Keep Process on Track

Article excerpt

Negotiators from Iran and six world powers scrambled Tuesday to preserve forward momentum for talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program, tentatively agreeing to another round of meetings.

Negotiators from Iran and six world powers scrambled Tuesday to preserve forward momentum for talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program, tentatively agreeing to hold another round of meetings -- the fourth since April -- despite little visible progress toward a compromise that would stop the drift toward war.

The talks on Tuesday, the second day of the negotiations, had a stop-and-go quality to them, and were extended repeatedly, evidently so that the sides could negotiate over the status of the next round of talks, which is expected to be held in China or Kazakhstan. The negotiators, in a Moscow hotel across from the Foreign Ministry, talked into Tuesday evening.

Russian officials, as the conference's hosts, met twice with the head of the Iranian delegation Tuesday, in an evident attempt to keep the process from derailing.

The outcome of the Monday talks made clear that the room for agreement was vanishingly small. Iran has concentrated its efforts on a weighty concession it seeks from the world powers: an acknowledgment that it has the right under international treaties to enrich uranium. In exchange, Iran -- which has repeatedly asserted its nuclear program is peaceful -- has signaled that it may be willing to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, considered a technical step short of bomb grade.

The six powers, known as the P5-plus-1 because they include the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- Russia, China, the United States, Britain and France -- plus Germany, have demanded that Iran abide by prior Security Council resolutions to suspend all uranium enrichment. They also have demanded that the Iranians ship the 20 percent-enriched uranium out of the country and shut down an underground enrichment facility.

Israel, which considers Iran its most dangerous enemy, has warned that it may preemptively strike suspected Iranian nuclear targets if it decides that the talks are not making progress, an action that many fear would lead to a new war in the Middle East. …

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