By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERLIN (IDN) – Preparations are afoot for a new, and perhaps a promising, round of talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) over Tehran’s nuclear energy program. According to Press TV, Kazakhstan is willing to host the negotiations for the third time in succession this year.
Undeterred by continued impasse at the talks in Almaty on April 6-7 and earlier on February 26-27, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov made the announcement during a phone conversation with new Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi on August 18.
Congratulating Salehi on his appointment as the AEOI chief as well as a vice president, the Kazakh foreign minister expressed the hope that the stalled nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group will have “a fortunate ending”, reported the Press TV, the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English round-the-clock.
Iran and the P5+1, which comprises five permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council Russia, China, France, Britain, and the U.S. plus Germany, have held several rounds of talks with the main focus being on Iran’s nuclear energy program.
The announcement by the Kazakh foreign minister, reported by Press TV on August 21, comes at a point in time when Iran and the P5+1 have yet to decide on a next round of negotiations, but in the aftermath of a new government having been installed in Tehran, both sides have expressed their willingness to talk afresh.
In a telephone conversation on August 18, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the P5+1, and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed readiness for resuming negotiations.
Earlier, on August 16, the German Foreign Office spokesperson said at a press conference in Berlin that Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had in a telephone conversation with Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif expressed the hope that “the new Government in Iran would provide fresh impetus for the launch of constructive and substantial negotiations aimed at resolving the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program”.
A bilateral meeting between the German and Iranian foreign ministers is planned on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in September in New York.
Germany’s membership of P5+1 grouping is underlined by the fact that Iran is a key trading partner of the country. Tehran’s nuclear programs mainly depend upon the German products and services. Around 50 German firms have their own branch offices in Iran and more than 12,000 firms have their own trade representatives in Iran. Several renowned German companies are involved in major Iranian infrastructure projects, especially in the petrochemical sector, like Linde, BASF, Lurgi, Krupp, Siemens, ZF Friedrichshafen, Mercedes, Volkswagen and MAN.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif reaffirmed Tehran’s intention to resume talks with the P5+1 with a view to finding “a solution to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear issue,” Iran Review, a “leading independent, non-governmental and non-partisan website” reported on August 21.
It said: “Ms. Catherine Ashton contacted me and expressed her desire for the resumption of talks between Iran and the P5+1. In response…, I reiterated that the Islamic Republic of Iran is willing to resume talks,” Zarif said.
“In the phone conversation, I told Ms. Ashton that we favor a solution instead of merely engaging in talks,” Zarif added.
Ashton’s spokesperson said that the EU foreign policy chief had “underlined her continued determination and commitment to seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue,” during her conversation with Zarif.
According to the Iran Review, “Iran’s Foreign Ministry also said the newly-released documents on U.S. involvement in a 1953 coup against a popular Iranian government reveal no previously-unknown information and do nothing to fade Washington’s crimes.”
Abbas Araqchi of Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that the release of the recent documents 60 years after the coup “neither adds anything new to what we already knew, nor does it lessen the American crimes.”
The Iranian official noted that the declassified documents do not belong to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – contrary to what has been claimed – and that Iran expects the agency to release its actual documents on the issue.
“Araqchi also underlined the British role in the 1953 coup and noted that although the coup of August 19, 1953 is generally viewed as an American ploy, we should not lose sight of Britain’s behind-the-scene role in planning the coup and the subsequent violence and hostility it perpetrated against Iran prior to and in the course of the coup,” Iran Review said.
Commenting on the future of Iran’s comprehensive talks with the P5+1 group of countries and whether the talks will be handled by Iran’s Foreign Ministry or Supreme Council of National Security, Araqchi said that, regardless of which body would pursue the negotiations, Iran’s principles on its nuclear energy issue will remain unchanged.
He further noted that newly elected President Hassan Rouhani has not yet decided which of the aforementioned bodies will undertake the task of the negotiations with the P5+1.
“Regarding the reports about the ‘reduction of Iranian nuclear reserves’ in the run-up to the next round of talks between Iran and the P5+1, Araqchi stated that the rate of Iranian nuclear production and reserves will be based on our needs and consumption in the field of energy and other fields such as agriculture and medicine and is not a political issue,” Iran Review said.
Araqchi said Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in southern Iran will most likely be ready for full function and be inaugurated “within the next several weeks”.
He reiterated, however, that the plant has long been producing electricity while undergoing experimental stages, which is a common practice that takes place at nuclear power plants from the time when their construction is completed by the contractor to when their handling is entirely relayed to the possessor country.
The Foreign Ministry official described the Bushehr NPP as a case jointly handled by Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency and the Foreign Ministry, adding that it has been one of the nation’s key foreign policy issues in the past 20 years.
Press TV said: “The U.S., Israel and some of their allies falsely claim that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program, with Washington and the European Union using the unfounded allegation as a pretext to impose illegal sanctions on Iran.”
It added: “Tehran strongly rejects the groundless claim over its nuclear activities, maintaining that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.” [IDN-InDepthNews – August 22, 2013]
Picture: Iran and the P5+1 hold talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, April 5, 2013 | Credit: Press TV