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US: Talks should focus on Iran N-issue

Despite Iran announcing its talks with world major powers will not include the nuclear issue, the US says negotiations should focus on Tehran’s nuclear program.

“We are encouraged that Iran has agreed to meet in Geneva next week,” Reuters quoted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying on Wednesday.

On October 14, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton expressed the West’s readiness to return to negotiations and proposed three-day talks with Iran in mid-November in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Dialogue between Iran and the P5+1 has been stalled since October 1, 2009, when the two sides met in Geneva.

Iran on Tuesday announced that its multifaceted talks with the P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US plus Germany — will restart on December 6 in Switzerland.

Despite Iran’s repeated declarations that talks with the P5+1 will not include the nuclear issue as the case has been “resolved,” Clinton said the negotiations should focus “first and foremost” on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Clinton said the talks would also include the initial nuclear fuel swap that the Vienna Group — France, Russia, the US, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — proposed in 2009.

She added that “developments in Iran’s nuclear program since that agreement was reached and not implemented” should be taken into account.

During negotiations in Geneva, the Vienna Group offered to ship most of Iran’s low-enriched uranium out of the country in exchange for reactor fuel from Russia and France.

The Western refusal to offer Tehran objective guarantees in the fuel swap proposal led to Iran issuing a nuclear declaration with Turkey and Brazil on May 17 to ease Western concerns.

Under the declaration, Iran agreed to ship most of its low enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel.

Iran has stressed that it would negotiate the issue of a nuclear fuel swap with the Vienna group within the framework of the Tehran declaration, and its talks with the P5+1 would be based on Iranian top negotiator Saeed Jalili’s letter.

In a letter to EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton, Jalili said that while Iran is still ready to resume talks with the group of six world powers, a number of conditions would first have to be met.

All parties must prove their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s pillars of global disarmament, non-proliferation and the right to peaceful nuclear technology, wrote Jalili.

He also called for clarification on the ambiguous nuclear program of Israel — widely believed to be the Middle East’s sole possessor of a nuclear arsenal.

In his letter, Jalili reiterated that any approach which does not square with the package of proposals offered by Tehran in May 2009 is a “reactionary and unconstructive” move which will not be accepted by the Iranian side.

“We want to see Iran take a position as a responsible member of the international community, but in order to do that it must cease violating international obligations, cease any efforts it is making and has made in the past toward achieving nuclear weapons,” Clinton said.

The White House announced in November that Washington plans to allocate more than USD 85 billion, which is unprecedented since the end of the Cold War, to modernize its nuclear weapons complex during the next decade.

The US and its allies used their influence on the UN Security Council to press for fresh sanctions against Iran over the country’s nuclear program which they claim is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Iranian officials have repeatedly refuted the nuclear accusations, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, Tehran has the right to use peaceful nuclear technology.

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