Catherine Ashton and Saeed Jalili

Nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers resumed today in Istanbul despite insistence of Iran’s representative in the IAEA that their uranium enrichment efforts are non-negotiable.

The world powers are aiming for clear assurances from Iran that it will not turn its uranium enrichment program toward the development of nuclear weapons. Iran, on the other hand, denies having ever had such aspirations and insists that its nuclear program is only focused on generating power.

While refusing proposals to freeze its uranium enrichment efforts, Iran is also pushing an agenda for the talks that covers other global issues such as Israel’s alleged nuclear program and global disarmament.

Iranian diplomats reportedly came out of the first day of talks with greater optimism than their interlocutors, according to a report by Associated Press.

Iranian delegate Abolfazl Zohrehvand told AP: “Compared to the Geneva Talks, the negotiations in Istanbul are being held in a more positive way.” The last round of nuclear talks between Iran and G5+1 was held in Geneva last month which resulted in a mere agreement to meet in Istanbul in January.

Zohrehvand added: “They didn’t get what they had hoped to get from pressure and sanctions so they are showing some flexibility. This is helping both sides to be optimistic."

The UN Security Council has approved four resolutions to impose economic sanctions on Iran with the last one taking effect in June 2010.

Mike Hammer, spokesman for the US National Security Council and a member of the delegation in Istanbul said the US will continue its policy of diplomacy and political pressure and it is Iran’s turn to take clear and assuring steps.

Russia has however expressed hopes that Iranian cooperation would result in agreements on lifting of sanctions against Iran.

Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister told reporters in Istanbul that lifting the sanctions against Iran should be part of the agenda in the Istanbul negotiations.
The nuclear talks in Istanbul will continue until Saturday.