Millennium Post

Iran won’t give up right to enrich uranium

World powers on Monday sought to wring concessions out of Iran to defuse the decade-long crisis over its nuclear drive at talks in Moscow billed as a last chance to find a diplomatic solution.

Western diplomats were looking for signs that Iran could show willingness to scale down the intensity of its sensitive uranium enrichment activities as the Islamic Republic made a customary show of public defiance.

Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili sat down with representatives from six world powers including Tehran's arch foe the United States as well as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton for two days of talks which will show if there is any hope of progress.

‘These negotiations are a big test to see if the West is in favour of Iran's progress or against,’ Jalili, apparently in uncompromising mood, told Iranian state television as he went into the talks.

But the spokesman of the EU delegation told reporters that world powers were sticking by a previous demand for Iran to halt enriching uranium to 20 per cent - a level approaching that needed to make an atomic bomb.

‘Our priority is for the Iranians to address the 20 per cent,’ said the spokesman, adding that Iran should also shut down its Fordo enrichment plant outside the holy city of Qom.

Failure in the talks could have a heavy toll with the United States and its ally Israel refusing to rule out the option of airstrikes against the Iranian nuclear programme and Tehran facing sanctions that could cripple the economy.

But Iran made clear ahead of the negotiations it has no intention of abandoning its right to enrich uranium, a process which can be used to make nuclear fuel but also the explosive core of an atomic bomb.
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