Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

World powers challenge Iran to hand over enriched uranium stockpile

The world's leading powers sought to break the deadlock over Iran's nuclear ambitions on Wednesday by challenging Tehran to hand over part of its stockpile of enriched uranium in return for easing the pressure on the country's economy.

The talks in Baghdad focused on a dispute that has threatened to cause a new war in the Middle East. An international contact group consisting of the Security Council's five permanent members and Germany put forward a proposal designed as the first step towards restoring confidence in the supposedly peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme.

The country has enriched some uranium to 20 per cent purity - a vital step towards the 90 per cent needed for nuclear weapons. Iran's official explanation is that it needs this material to make fuel for a civilian research reactor in Tehran.

Baroness Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief who chairs the contact group, proposed that Iran stop producing uranium enriched to this level and hand over its existing stockpile. In return, Tehran would receive the fuel for its research reactor from other countries.

Diplomats said this idea led to a "detailed exchange" of views, but Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief negotiator, was put on the spot by the move and had not offered a concrete response. The talks are expected to continue today. Read More