Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran
The United States and its allies may have to mull over lifting the sanctions imposed on Iran if it comes up with a 'substantial offer' in regard to its nuclear program, according to an article published in the Financial Times on April 15.
"The U.S., UK, and France say they will not remove sanctions on Iran unless Tehran abandons its uranium enrichment program," part of the article read.
"However, some western diplomats conceded that the U.S. and its allies may have to consider lifting some sanctions if Iran comes up with a substantial offer to scale back some of its activities," it said.
The article also quoted an unidentified senior U.S. official as saying, "We have no expectation today that we are lifting any sanction because one only begins to look at those issues when there are sufficient concrete steps to warrant any changes."
Diplomats also made it clear, however, that there was limited time to forge a deal.
"We may need more meetings after Baghdad," said a diplomat.
Two rounds of talks were held in Istanbul on April 14 between representatives of Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), which ended a 15-month hiatus in talks.
The two sides agreed to meet again in Baghdad on May 23, and Helga Schmid, the deputy secretary general for political affairs of the European External Action Service, and Ali Baqeri, the deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, were tasked with drawing up an agenda for the Baghdad talks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on April 15 that Tehran was ready to resolve all nuclear issues in the next round of talks with world powers if the West starts lifting sanctions, according to Reuters.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on April 16 that Washington will maintain sanctions and other pressure on Iran as Tehran considers what it will bring to the table in the next round of talks over its nuclear program.
The main bone of contention between Tehran and the West is Iran's uranium enrichment program.
Iran says all its nuclear activities are totally peaceful, and, as an International Atomic Energy Agency member and a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has the legal right to produce nuclear fuel for its research reactors and nuclear power plants.
In a recent interview with CNN, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, said that Iran and the major powers agreed in Istanbul to continue cooperation based on the NPT.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the 5+1 group in nuclear negotiations with Tehran, told a news conference after a day of talks in Istanbul that the talks were "useful" and "constructive".
"The discussion on the Iranian nuclear issue has been constructive and useful," she said. "We want now to move to a sustained process of serious dialogue, where we can take urgent, practical steps to build confidence."
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