UK Middle East Minister Alistair Burt expressed hope yesterday for the forthcoming P5+1 talks with Iran on its nuclear programme. In a video message issued with Persian subtitles, he said that talks could succeed this time where they failed in the past. Burt noted that Iran had stated in a letter that they were willing to discuss their nuclear programme, which they had refused to do in previous talks.
Burt stressed that Britain was willing to support Iran’s pursuit of civil nuclear technology, but stressed that, ‘in return the obligation of the Iranian government is to deal with the concerns of the international community; to deal with the concerns of the international atomic energy agency who look after nuclear security on behalf of all of us.’
The IAEA has long expressed concerns about military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme and in November 2011 published a detailed report about Iran’s attempts to develop the technology for nuclear weapons.
Talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) are due to take place in Istanbul on 14 April. Reports over the weekend indicated that Western powers might be willing to allow Iran to continue to enrich uranium to low levels, if Iran agrees to stop higher levels of enrichment, to close its enrichment facility at Qom, and to ship out its existing stockpiles of enriched uranium. However, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday that the US still sought a complete cessation of uranium enrichment in Iran.