Iran should offer "concrete steps" at nuclear talks, Catherine Ashton says
The international community would like to see Iran deliver "concrete steps" at a round of technical talks this week over its disputed nuclear programme, the European Union's foreign policy chief said Monday, DPA reported.
"We hope Iran will seize the opportunity of this meeting to show a willingness to take concrete steps to urgently meet the concerns of the international community, to build confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme and to meet its international obligations," Catherine Ashton said on the eve of the Istanbul talks.
Ashton has conducted the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme on behalf of six world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
A Western diplomat said experts from those countries would detail their demand that Iran stop enriching uranium to 20 per cent and that the material enriched to this level so far be shipped out of the country.
The group's offer of cooperation on nuclear technology and airplane parts was "all contingent on Iran taking some steps," the diplomat said.
Iran would likely explain its stance that sanctions be lifted and its right to peaceful nuclear technology be recognized before adressing enrichment concerns, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The last round in Moscow failed to produce significant results, yielding only an agreement to meet at the working-group level in Istanbul on Tuesday.
The situation has been complicated by the full entry into force on Sunday of an EU oil embargo on Iran. All import contracts are now banned, with European firms also prohibited from providing insurance to ships carrying Iranian oil.
Tehran - which had previously called on the EU to rethink the embargo and warned that it could jeopardize the nuclear talks - marked the occasion by announcing that it would test missiles in a manoeuvre beginning on Monday.