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Iran Agrees to Restart Nuclear Talks With U.S., Allies
 By James G. Neuger and Ladane Nasseri - Apr 8, 2012 3:28 PM GMT-0700

The U.S. and its European allies will press Iran for tangible action to curb its nuclear program when talks with the government in Tehran restart later this week after a 15-month hiatus.

Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany will take place starting April 14 in Istanbul, European Union spokesman Michael Mann said yesterday. In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Laura Seal confirmed the plans.

“We have agreed to launch talks in Istanbul on April 14,” Mann said. “We hope that this first round will produce a conducive environment for concrete progress. We are of course aiming at a sustained process.”

The U.S. and its allies are seeking to avoid a repeat of the previous meeting in January 2011, also in Istanbul, when talks broke down after Iran demanded a lifting of UN sanctions as a condition for discussing the nuclear program. Iran is under increasing economic pressure from trade, financial and energy sanctions, including U.S. and EU measures to cut oil purchases from Iran.

In a joint statement March 8, the U.S. and its five partners in the talks -- China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. -- said they wanted sustained discussions with Iran and for the Persian gulf nation to allow UN inspectors into its secret Parchin military installation.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the six powers should demand that Iran stop enriching uranium to 20 percent and give up any material already processed to that level. Iran also must shut down the Fordo underground enrichment facility near Qom, Barak said in an interview broadcast yesterday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program.
Enriching Uranium

The U.S. and its allies say their concern is that Iran can use enrichment, which can be used to generate energy, to further process uranium to 90 percent for weapons-grade material.

Demands to give up a stockpile of material that Iran considers strategic raise the question of what the U.S. would be willing to offer in return, such as easing of sanctions, said Trita Parsi, the founder and president of the National Iranian American Council.

“If there are no concessions given, I find it very unlikely that the Iranians would agree to those demands, however justifiable those demands would be,” said Parsi, the author of “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.” “It doesn’t just seem very likely that the Iranians would agree to give up a strategic asset and still wait for oil sanctions to kick in.”
‘Maximalist Demands’

Both sides in the negotiations have shown a repeated pattern of pushing the other to “maximalist demands,” said Parsi, whose Washington-based group advocates diplomacy with Iran.

“Every time, that has ended up being a miscalculation,” he said. “Neither side is going to capitulate.”

Iran denies Western suspicions that it is pursuing a weapons capability, saying it wants nuclear power to provide energy for a growing population and to conduct medical research.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, will retain its right to scientific progress in its atomic program. He also attacked Israel and its allies for having nuclear weapons and threatening his country.

“Certain countries in the region not only possess nuclear technology but also have the atomic bomb,” Ahmadinejad said in an address to industry officials on the occasion of Iran’s nuclear technology day. “However there is no mention of them and no one is bothering them.”
Nuclear Israel

Iranian officials often have condemned what they see as a double standard because none of the three nuclear-weapons powers in the region -- Israel, Pakistan, and India -- has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel hasn’t acknowledged having nuclear weapons.

The U.S. has sought to bring Russia and China on board with international efforts pressing the Iranians to curb uranium enrichment. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said March 30 that Iran is breaching UN resolutions and “expanding” the scale of its nuclear program.

Earlier this month, Iranian officials said Turkey wouldn’t be a suitable location for nuclear talks in light of its sympathies for the opposition movement in Syria, an Iranian ally.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had suggested China and Iraq as potential venues. The secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, named Baghdad, Damascus or Beirut as more suitable locations than Istanbul.
Turkish Response

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rebuked Iranian official as being “dishonest,” saying they were proposing alternative locations they knew the U.S. and its European allies wouldn’t find acceptable.

The Turkish government once blamed officials in Washington for the continuing U.S.-Iran conflict, thinking leaders in Tehran hadn’t been approached properly, said Karim Sadjadpour, an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a policy research group in Washington.

Turkey was soon frustrated with its own efforts to find agreement with the Iranian regime over the nuclear issue and on Syria, Sadjadpour said yesterday in an e-mail. The result is that Iran risks isolating itself with few allies other than North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, he said.

“There are increasingly few locales in the world today which both the U.S. and Iran consider neutral diplomatic terrain,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at; Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at




April 3 (Bloomberg) -- Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson talks about Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Richardson, also former U.S. energy secretary, talks about China's energy diversification, and the price of crude oil and its effect on the global economy. He speaks with Bloomberg's Stephen Engle at the Boao Forum for Asia. (Source: Bloomberg)



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Crude Oil Declines in New York Trading; Brent Slides in London
 By Paul Gordon - Apr 8, 2012 3:18 PM GMT-0700

Oil for May delivery fell as much as $1.22, or 1.2 percent, to $102.09 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $102.18 at 6:13 a.m. Hong Kong time. The contract settled at $103.31 a barrel on April 5.

Brent crude for May settlement slid 90 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $122.53 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Markets were closed in New York and London on April 6 for public holidays.crude.png