Nuclear talks between Iran and the G5+1 began in Istanbul today, with Western diplomats expecting that this meeting may be a starting point for further talks.
The Iranian Student News Agency reported that the talks began after an hour’s delay at 11AM local time.
Western diplomats have set the bar low for the outcome of these first talks, saying they are only looking to see if Iran is prepared to engage in serious discussions and, if so, they will meet again within the next four to six weeks, possibly in Baghdad.
Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Riabkov has called on both sides to “find a middle ground,” while President Barack Obama has said that this is the last chance to resolve the nuclear disputes with Iran through diplomacy.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, arrived in Istanbul with the Iranian delegation yesterday. Jalili has said that Iran will offer “new initiatives” and work toward “successful and progressive talks.”
The United States has called for concrete results and announced that it is prepared to consider guarantees in return.
The G5+1 are concerned that Iran may be using its nuclear program as a front to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
The point of dispute is over uranium enrichment, which Iran says it needs to carry out in order to provide fuel for its reactors. However, uranium enrichment at high levels could be seen as a step toward nuclear-weapon capability.
Diplomats say Iran will look for ways to reserve the right to enrich uranium, but other have said that world powers would not accept the stockpiling of enriched uranium.
BBC reports that Jalili and Catherine Ashton, the G5+1 chief negotiator, met last night ahead of today’s talks, and Western diplomats have reported that the general mood of the meeting today appears to be positive and constructive.