Russia hopeful on Iran nuclear agreement

Russia hopeful on Iran nuclear agreement

New round of talks between world powers and the Islamic Republic set to take place next week

Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani,  Friday, September 13, 2013 (photo credit: via YouTube)
Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, Friday, September 13, 2013 (photo credit: via YouTube)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iran’s unprecedented cooperation with the UN’s nuclear watchdog and six world powers raises hope that an agreement can be reached to limit Iran’s ability to build nuclear arms before the July 20 deadline, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said ahead of a new round of talks next week.

Mikhail Uliyanov, director of the ministry’s Department of Arms Control and Nonproliferation, gave the upbeat assessment to the third and final preparatory conference for next year’s review of the landmark 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a pact aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

A new round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program is scheduled to be held in New York next week on the sidelines of the NPT preparatory conference. Iran is hoping the talks with the US, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany will result in relief from the sanctions which have crippled its economy — particularly by slashing vital oil exports and severely restricting international banking transactions

Uliyanov said an action plan agreed to by both sides on November 24 “is being implemented consistently.”

“We are confident that the unprecedentedly constructive cooperation of Iran with the IAEA as well as with the (six powers) gives grounds to hope for a successful outcome of the talks on a comprehensive solution to Iran’s nuclear issue before the deadline of July 20,” he said. The International Atomic Energy Agency is the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

A senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official, Hamid Baeidinejad, made no mention of the upcoming talks in his speech to the preparatory conference on Wednesday.

Iran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful.

Baeidinejad reiterated “the inalienable right” of all parties to the 1970 nonproliferation pact to research, develop, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

He called on the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament, the world’s most important disarmament negotiating forum, to urgently start negotiations on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons that would prohibit their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and provide for their destruction.

Baeidinejad, the Foreign Ministry’s director general for political and international security affairs, accused the nuclear-weapon states of not taking a “single serious step” toward a nuclear-weapon-free world in the nearly 45 years since the NPT was signed — a claim disputed by Russia and the United States.

Uliyanov said Tuesday that Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenals have decreased by more than 80 percent and its non-strategic arsenals by 75 percent over the last 25 years.

Rose Gottemoeller, the US State Department’s top arms control official, told the conference Tuesday that the US nuclear arsenal has fallen dramatically from a peak of 31,255 weapons in 1967 to 4,804 as of September 2013 — an 85 percent reduction.

“It is indisputable that progress toward the NPT’s disarmament goals is being made,” she said. “And our efforts continue.”

The UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Iran because of concerns it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make fuel for both energy and nuclear weapons. The US and its Western allies have imposed even more punishing sanctions.

The action plan agreed to on Nov. 24 commits Tehran to curb its nuclear programs in exchange for initial sanctions relief over six months as the two sides work toward a permanent agreement. It designates the IAEA to supervise Iranian compliance with terms of the deal.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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