WASHINGTON (AFP) – Iran cannot convince the world that its current ability to enrich uranium is acceptable, the top US negotiator said Tuesday ahead of new nuclear talks with global powers.
After months of intense negotiations the two sides have “identified potential answers to some key questions,” Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said in a speech at an award-giving ceremony at Georgetown University.
But she warned “we remain far apart on other core issues, including the size and scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity.”
As Iran and world powers prepare for new talks starting on Thursday in New York, Sherman said she expected the Islamic Republic “will try to convince the world that on this pivotal matter, the status quo … should be acceptable.”
“It is not,” Sherman stressed, as she was given a top award for distinction in the conduct of diplomacy. “If it were, we wouldn’t be involved in this difficult and very painstaking negotiation.”
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1) want Iran to scale down its nuclear activities to make any breakout move to manufacture a bomb extremely difficult.
In return Tehran, which denies wanting nuclear weapons and says a peaceful atomic programme is its right, wants the lifting of tough UN and Western sanctions.