British and French push Iran to drop resistance to new talks on nuclear program

The EU and British Foreign Secretary raised the pressure on Iran Monday to drop its resistance to European demands that it curtail its nuclear program and defuse a potential clash between Tehran and Washington…

British and French push Iran to drop resistance to new talks on nuclear program

The EU and British Foreign Secretary raised the pressure on Iran Monday to drop its resistance to European demands that it curtail its nuclear program and defuse a potential clash between Tehran and Washington over the two issues.

Appearing on news shows in London and at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, William Hague called on the Iranian government to soften its position, and raised the prospect of Britain and France getting out of the international group of countries that review if Iran is fulfilling its nuclear responsibilities.

Hague said Britain, France and Germany are asking Iran to help resolve the nuclear issue via negotiations that would not entail measures the Iranians would consider a precondition to a lasting solution. The negotiations would be separate from talks regarding Syria’s civil war, currently going on between the United States and Iran, he said.

“Iran should come back to the table and drop its hostile position,” he said.

Hague, a former British foreign secretary, who was replaced Monday by Jeremy Hunt, said he did not want to see “a major conflict developing” over the international campaign aimed at preventing Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon. He stressed the need for talks that “do not appear to be preconditions for a solution” and instead “deliver outcomes.”

Hague also gave no new detail about further punitive steps against Iran. He had threatened on April 30 to limit cooperation with Iran and end “diplomatic, commercial and cultural” activities in Tehran if it continued to oppose Western demands to scale back its nuclear program.

Iran said it is ready to negotiate, but the Islamic Republic considers all international efforts to constrain its nuclear program to be a violation of its national sovereignty.

Hague and Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, had been pressing Iranian officials to the negotiating table as the negotiations drag on without a deal. They have said they believe more time is needed to find a compromise.

Ayrault traveled to Iran last month, where he engaged in one-on-one talks with Iranian officials on nuclear talks. He said in an interview on Monday that he did not know if there was a breakthrough because he had “not spoken to Iranian officials since.” He noted, however, that his deputy, Benoît Hamon, is in Vienna negotiating with Iranian nuclear officials.

He repeated a French demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, an enrichment process that can make the fissile core of a nuclear weapon. Iran’s government says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. maintains that the program is designed to make a bomb.

“We still await Iran’s reply,” Ayrault said of the position of the Iranian government on nuclear diplomacy.

The U.S. is insisting that Iran must fully dismantle the core of its nuclear program. It has said that it is negotiating with Iran on how to resolve the situation, rather than stopping its program. It said that the focus on negotiations has shifted to how to respond to Iranian behavior and not to Iran’s program.

Iran says it is willing to talk. It has said it is open to a deal which would protect its right to enrich uranium, and would guarantee that Iran could produce nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes.

Tehran says that full dismantlement of its nuclear program would affect its nuclear capacity and foreign relations.

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