During two days (26 -27 February) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in a new round of talks on the Iranian nuclear file, the so-called P5-plus-1 group offered to slightly ease economic sanctions if Tehran halts production of near-weapons-grade uranium fuel.
As is well known, the powers — China, Russia, France, Britain, Germany and the United States — fear Iran is seeking the ability to make nuclear bombs, an intent it denies by authorities in Tehran. So, what happened in Almaty, by the rule and line ?
The world powers have proposed allowing Iran to trade in gold and some other precious metals, a change that would ease the sanctions that have largely severed Iran from the world banking system. They also offered to ease sanctions on petrochemical sales and relax some banking restrictions. In exchange, Iran would have to stop producing so-called medium-enriched uranium at its underground plant at Fordow.
At the end of the meeting, Foreign Minister of UK, William Hague said on his Twitter account that: ”Iran talks in Almaty were a useful first step.We look to Iran to respond positively to E3+3 proposal at next meeting in March.” Also, Michael Mann, chief spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is diplomatic point person for the six powers, described the meetings as “useful”. Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili described the Almaty meeting as “positive”. In change, a State Department spokesman in Washington declined to comment on whether there had been progress in the talks. There is good to know that Secretary of State John F. Kerry implied this week that time was running out and that Washington could yet turn to military action to prevent Tehran from acquiring a bomb. Israel has also threatened military action.
The parties agreed to hold an experts meeting in Istanbul on March 18, followed by a political directors meeting, again in Almaty, Kazakhstan on April 5-6, negotiators from the P5+1 and Iran announced in a joint statement at the conclusion of talks Wednesday.