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Negotiators arrive at UN for crucial talks on Iran's nuclear plan

Israel and the West say Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at developing an atomic bomb, but Tehran says it is for peaceful purposes only.

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani speaks at a meeting on nuclear disarmament at the UN last month.
Iran's president Hassan Rouhani speaks at a meeting on nuclear disarmament at the UN last month.
Image: AP Photo/Seth Wenig

NEGOTIATING TEAMS FROM world powers and Iran have arrived at the UN’s European offices in Geneva this morning  for fresh talks on Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme.

The meeting between Iran and the P5+1 group of the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany comes after a six-month hiatus in talks over Tehran’s refusal to curb uranium enrichment in exchange for easing sanctions.

The Geneva talks are aimed at reaching accord over Iran’s nuclear programme, which Israel and the West say is aimed at developing an atomic bomb and Tehran says is for peaceful purposes only.

The Islamic republic has been slapped with several rounds of sanctions because of its nuclear programme.

Israel wants Iran to meet four conditions before the sanctions are eased: halting all uranium enrichment; removing all enriched uranium from its territory; closing its underground nuclear facility in Qom; and halting construction of a plutonium reactor.

Israel has refused to rule out military strikes against Iran, with Netanyahu telling the UN General Assembly this month that the Jewish state would act unilaterally if necessary.

Israel

Earlier today Israel urged the world to avoid a partial deal with Iran which could see a relaxing of sanctions, just hours before the new round of nuclear talks began.

Following a meeting late on Monday, the security cabinet warned the international community against any “partial agreement that would fail to bring about the full dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear programme…(which) could lead to the collapse of the sanctions regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a media blitz in recent days, warning against concessions to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Rouhani’s conciliatory tone has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the decade-long dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The security cabinet statement called on world powers to be wary of Iran at negotiations.

“Iran believes it can get by with cosmetic concessions that would not significantly impede its path to developing nuclear weapons, concessions that could be reversed in weeks,” the statement said. “In exchange, Iran demands an easing of the sanctions, which have taken years to put in place.”

But the security cabinet said the P5+1 should “reject Iran’s attempts to reach a deal that would leave it with the capability to develop nuclear weapons.”

An Israeli official said that the seven-member ministerial committee had met on Monday night but released the statement this morning to coincide with the talks.

- © AFP, 2013

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