Senior diplomats representing the United Nations Security Council and Germany agreed yesterday to resume negotiations with Iran in a bid to persuade it to stop its uranium enrichment program. Nicholas Burns, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, said Washington has agreed to suspend sanctions and is prepared to negotiate face to face with Iran for the first time in 28 years.
In return, Iran would have to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
Burns added that the US offer to negotiate directly with Iran should not be taken lightly by Tehran. “We are offering to negotiate. We are waiting for a response from Iran.”
The UN Security Council started last year to impose sanctions on Iran on an incremental basis. The Europeans are willing to revive an offer of technological assistance and other economic and trade incentives if Iran halts enrichment.
The diplomats from Britain, the United States, France, Russia, China, and Germany said they will give Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, approval to meet Ali Larijani, Iran’s nuclear negotiator, probably next week. “We wanted to agree to the mandate for those talks,” said a German government official. “What is on the table is a two-track suspension proposal.”
In the absence of progress, the countries involved could return to the United Nations to propose new sanctions, officials said.
The United States and its allies accuse Iran of planning to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran has repeatedly denied.
Burns said that if Iran does not accept the offer by the time of a Group of 8 summit meeting, slated for June 6 to 8, then a new round of sanctions will be considered.