U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “there is still time for diplomacy” to resolve the Iran nuclear dispute, as an Iranian official said his nation plans to offer “new initiatives” at talks with world powers in Istanbul on April 14.
“Iran’s representatives will participate in the negotiations with new initiatives,” Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying yesterday in Tehran by the official IRNA news agency. “We hope that the P5+1 countries will also enter talks with constructive approaches.”
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, the so-called P5+1, are set to hold their first talks in 15 months. The previous round, also in Istanbul, ended without agreement.
Clinton, speaking yesterday at a meeting of the Group of Eight foreign ministers in Washington, said the talks provide an opportunity for Iran to “address seriously the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program.”
“It is urgent that the Iranians come to the table to establish an environment conducive to achieving concrete results through a sustained process,” she said.
The stakes for this round of talks are high because both Israel and the U.S. have spoken about the potential for military action as soon as this year to stop what they say are Iran’s advancing efforts to develop nuclear weapons capabilities.
Iran’s talks with six world powers over its nuclear program this week aren’t a “last-ditch attempt” to reach a peaceful settlement, a senior Russian lawmaker said in an interview in Moscow yesterday.
“That’s the position of the Obama administration, and I don’t think our position is the same,” said Alexei Pushkov, head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee. “We believe that talks must continue until you reach the desired result.”
Russia is seeking to persuade Iran to provide “convincing proof” that it’s not developing nuclear weapons, he said.
Iran, the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is already grappling with restrictions imposed by the U.S. and European Union on its trade, financial and energy sectors. Crude oil for May delivery rose $1.68 to settle at $102.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are up 3.9 percent this year.
The oil market is going to stay “very volatile” because of the situation with Iran, Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said at a conference yesterday in New York.
‘Language of Threat’
Failure to reach tangible agreements may lead to tighter restrictions and the possibility of military strikes by Israel. Some Israeli leaders say their country’s existence is threatened by Iran’s nuclear progress.
“The language of threat and the approach of pressuring Iran have never had results,” Jalili told reporters yesterday. “What can yield results with Iran is the method of talks and cooperation.”
World powers have for years called on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activity, a request the Persian Gulf rejects, maintaining that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it is entitled to carry out the work on its territory for peaceful ends. Enriched uranium can be used to fuel nuclear reactors or enriched to high concentration fuel a nuclear bomb.