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Iran nuclear negotiator: Talks taking 'realistic' turn

February 27th, 2013
12:31 PM ET

By Josh Levs, CNN

World powers did not push Iran to halt enrichment at its nuclear plants during secretive talks Wednesday, the country's chief negotiator said.

In an interview with CNN, Saeed Jalili said the six-nation bloc conducting the negotiations is taking more "realistic" steps, including "paying more attention to the rights of Iran."

The so-called P5+1 - the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia - did not release details of the meeting in Kazakhstan aimed at working toward a resolution of the international battle over Iran's nuclear activities. But negotiators acknowledged making some concessions.

Jalili, in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, also stayed mum about what was being offered. But he indicated that some previous requests may be off the table.

Asked whether the group called on Iran to halt uranium enrichment, he said, "They did not raise such a thing."

And asked about suggestions that negotiators may want Iran to freeze activities at the Fordo enrichment facility, Jalili said there is "no logic" for it to be shut down. "They have paid attention to this point. Therefore it is considered for our point of view a positive step."

A senior U.S. official, however, said the current P5+1 proposal calls for Iran to "suspend enrichment at Fordo and constrain the ability to rapidly resume enrichment there."

U.S. officials have expressed concerns about the facility, which is buried deep beneath a mountain near the Iranian holy city of Qom.

The United States and several other nations have expressed concerns that Iran is using its nuclear energy program as a guise for a nuclear weapons program. Iran insists its program is purely for civilian purposes.

A senior U.S. official said Washington's greatest concerns are about Iran's continued enrichment of uranium to a level of 20%, which is a step closer to the 90% uranium enrichment needed for a nuclear bomb. Once 20% is reached, the uranium is considered "highly enriched," and can more easily be further enriched to weapons-grade uranium.

Negotiators have previously suggested Iran export uranium and then import it back in once it's been enriched elsewhere, so that the process does not take place inside Iran.

Jalili said 20% enrichment serves "our peaceful needs," and "there are mechanisms to prove" it is for peaceful purposes. Tehran has said the enriched uranium is useful for medical purposes.

He indicated there may be room for negotiation on this issue, saying Iran currently has no way to get the enriched uranium "but to produce it."

Jalili spoke through a translator.

'The path of pressure was wrong'

The Obama administration has offered direct talks with Iran, but Tehran has said it won't do so under pressure. Asked Wednesday about the offer, Jalili said the United States is able to raise its "points and issues" through the P5+1.

And Jalili slammed the sanctions against his country imposed by the international community, led by the United States, over the past couple of years.

He insisted the pressure isn't working.

"They are witnessing our achievements in peaceful nuclear activities," he insisted. "They are asking and requesting us to talk about these achievements. Therefore it shows that the path of pressure was wrong."

Iranians have "resisted and defended their rights," he said.

The sanctions have contributed to Iran's acute economic struggles.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said the six nations were forced to make concessions since the last talks in Moscow last year in May.

"We put what we call a confidence-building proposal on the table," Ashton said in a statement. "This is an opportunity for Iran to take some initial steps that would improve the confidence of the international community in the wholly peaceful nature of their nuclear program, in return for which we would do some things as well."

The two sides are to meet next in Istanbul on March 18 for talks involving technical experts.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. bribarian

    Time for israel to sign NPT?

    February 27, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  2. Nadia Elizabeth Hakemi, hrh

    Christianne: There is only one Elizabeth. With your brains and my story we could bring back the feminine necessary for real peace and harmony on this planet. It is so necessary for women to take the lead today because the world is in a low state but the Cardinal cannot be totally honest for the sake of so many innocent and truly good Catholics. We understand that. There is a huge scandal for the Catholic church that may be unavoidable in the near future. Yeah it must be the money. Thanks for sharing and keeping us up to date. Bringing the feminine back, Nadia

    February 27, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  3. Barone

    l couldnt agree with you more, lve always been a keen supporter of women empowerment in all aspects of life, including religion.. My theory is that most of the unexplained mysteries, objects & monuments across the world were all erected & are works of women; as temples & points of sacrificial rituals for women who so desperately praying to beget men, at a point in history when men were so few, scarce & almost extinct; due to birth mortality rates, disease, wars & premature deaths. Almost all early human learning & cognitive skills are passed down to children by mothers; either to boys or girls.

    February 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  4. raj

    Opps... what happen to my post

    February 28, 2013 at 3:04 am | Reply
  5. Hans

    Amanpour is Iranian. No wonder she defends the Ayatullas at every occasion. She is also a well known antisemite. No wonder she yells at Israel at every occasion.

    February 28, 2013 at 3:57 am | Reply
  6. jimmy lim

    The dice has been casted. Iran is dead serious to have nuclear weapons at any costs. period. It is so obvious that they are merely stalling for time to weaponise. As such, there can never be any fruitful outcome from these meetings

    February 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  7. Kay

    You know what? Just let Iran pursue its nuclear project. Or even just let Iran has nuclear weapon IF it wants to, just like India, Pakistan, France, US, UK, Russia, and err... ISRAEL.

    March 1, 2013 at 1:11 am | Reply
  8. Eze

    The world is coming to an end

    March 1, 2013 at 6:34 am | Reply
  9. Eze

    Mind u Iran is not lik any of this country u made mentioned, they are Arab they love war the like destroying things, they don't value human life and all is what their religion thought them, so don't give to a kid fire coz he's gono do some damage with it.

    March 1, 2013 at 6:39 am | Reply
  10. Adeleke mohammed

    I think this case can be resolve by saudi arabia government

    March 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  11. KEVIN

    with a kneck tie made of wire the US will hang Iran with the blame

    March 2, 2013 at 4:29 am | Reply
  12. russell lee

    You got it. Then, why can't I have it?

    March 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  13. Peter

    Eze: First Iran population is Persian I suggest you might want to do some reading on their history. Some english and grammar lessons might also help. As for loving war, when was the last war started by Iran? It seems to me that the US is the greater war monger, shall we simply make a quick count since Vietnam. Might I also add 20% enrichment is a not even close to the 90% required for weapon grade material. How many years has it taken this country to obtain 20%, why must we always abide by Israel's perspective; have we not a mind of our own?

    March 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Peter, I am the last thing to anti-semetic, but Israel has the US completely wrapped around their finger concerning middle east policy and diplomatic relations. And Netenyahu is of NO help in adjusting this prejudice that pollutes US attempts to be objective in it's evaluation ond diplomatic relations throughout the middle east

      March 3, 2013 at 12:53 am | Reply
  14. jimmy lim

    The current impasse is ideal pretext and time for Iran to build nuclear bomb

    March 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Reply
  15. jimmy lim

    This guy is slimy and full of baloney

    March 4, 2013 at 8:14 am | Reply

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