ISTANBUL – Nuclear negotiators for Iran and six world powers were making encouraging progress in bridging differences that have doomed previous meetings meant to reduce fears over Tehran‘s atomic program, diplomats close to the talks said.
With the meeting just breaking for lunch, the diplomat cautioned against premature optimism about the outcome. But he said the unfolding dialogue between the two sides suggested they would find enough common ground for a second round in several weeks’ time.
Iran is under four sets of U.N. sanctions for refusing to stop uranium enrichment — which can be used both to make reactor fuel and the fissile core of nuclear warheads — and the international community continues to demand that Tehran stop the activity.
But the last set of nuclear talks broke up without result more than 14 months ago after the Iranian team had refused to even discuss enrichment. The six, thus had come to Saturday’s meeting with more modest expectations. Diplomats said before the meeting began that even general Iranian readiness to accept the need to discuss its enrichment program would be considered enough of a success to warrant a follow-up round.
The diplomat, who demanded anonymity because he was sharing information from a closed session, said the Iranians appeared to be moving toward that goal, engaging in discussion about the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
He said the Iranian team had mentioned supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “fatwa,” or prohibition, of nuclear weapons for Iran, in the course of the plenary discussions. After lunch the meeting would go into bilateral sessions, he said — a setup that will be closely watched to see if the Americans meet directly with the Iranians.
Such encounters are rare and would indicate a further thaw in tensions
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