|‘Iran nuclear talks making steady progress’||
TEHRAN – In an editorial published on Saturday, the New York Times wrote that despite their remaining differences, negotiations between Iran and the six major powers on Tehran’s nuclear program are making progress.
Following are excerpts of the article:
With three months to go before the July deadline for a final agreement, Iran and the six major powers are still searching for ways to resolve differences over Iran’s nuclear program. Even so, the negotiations keep confounding skeptics by making steady progress and showing that investing in this process is worth the risk.
On January 20, Iran stopped enriching uranium to 20 percent under an interim agreement reached in November with the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany that has effectively frozen the nuclear program. Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had gone further and reduced the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium by nearly 75 percent.
Under the interim deal, Iran promised to dilute half the enriched uranium to a grade that is less susceptible to proliferation and to convert the rest to oxide for use in nuclear reactors. Both processes are well underway, with completion expected before the July deadline.
Another potential bright spot is a proposal by Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, to redesign Iran’s heavy water reactor near Arak to use low enriched uranium and limit the amount of plutonium the facility can produce.
Mr. Salehi may have been too optimistic when he told state television that the Arak issue, a major dispute, “has been virtually resolved”; the West at one point had demanded that the facility be closed entirely because it could give Iran a second plutonium-based path to a nuclear weapon, in addition to uranium. But the proposal, also raised by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in March, could offer a potential compromise.
Transparency could go a long way toward building trust between Iran and the West. A spokesman for the organization [the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran] was vague on details and said the report may not be done until after the deadline for a final nuclear agreement.
In an article he (Zarif) wrote on Iranian foreign policy in Foreign Affairs magazine … he firmly committed Iran to “prudent moderation” and to fostering peace and security. A durable nuclear agreement is an important first step in fulfilling that promise.
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