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Chief Iranian Nuclear Negotiator Will Insist On Enrichment Right

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Said Jalili
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator says world powers must recognize the Islamic republic's right to enrich uranium for there to be a breakthrough in talks over its disputed nuclear program.

Said Jalili was speaking on April 4 in the Kazakh city of Almaty, the day before a new round of talks there between Iran and six world powers. Jalili also said Iran would defend its right to enrich uranium with "more rigor" after its presidential election in June.

Jalili told an audience at a university in Almaty what Iran would require for the talks to make progress.

"We think our talks tomorrow can go forward with one word. That is the acceptance of the rights of Iran, particularly the right to [uranium] enrichment," he said.

EU foreign policy and security chief Catherine Ashton is representing the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany at the talks with Iranian officials on April 5 and 6.

Ashton said on a visit to Turkey on April 3 that she was "cautiously optimistic" about the upcoming discussions but added that Iran needs to respond to international concerns about its nuclear development program.

World powers suspect that Iran's nuclear program could be used to build an atomic bomb and are unlikely to agree to Iran’s assertion that it should have the right to enrich uranium. They are also not likely to bow to Tehran’s demands for economic sanctions to be lifted.

Tehran has rejected allegations that its goal is to produce weapons, saying its nuclear program is solely for energy and medical purposes.

The talks that open in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital on April 5 are a follow-up to a previous meeting held in Almaty at the end of February.

Analysts have said it is not likely that Iran would make any substantial moves in negotiations until after the presidential election in June.

But Israel has added urgency to the negotiations by vowing that it would not remain idle while Iran develops nuclear weapons and has threatened to bomb Iran’s military installations if diplomacy and sanctions fail to convince Tehran to cease its atomic development program.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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