Iran Makes Five-point Proposal to World Powers in Baghdad Nuclear Talks

At this point, there has been no breakthrough between world powers and Iran, but some progress was made in Wednesday afternoon round of talks.

For three hours on Wednesday afternoon, representatives of six world powers and Iran sat in the official guest house of Baghdad's secure "Green Zone" and discussed Iran's nuclear program. At this point, there are still no signs of a breakthrough but the afternoon round of talks achieved some progress.

After EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is managing the talks on behalf of six major world powers (United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany), presented a package of confidence-building measures, the Iranian delegation submitted for the first time its own proposal.

The written proposal submitted by the Iranian negotiating team, which is led by Saeed Jalili, includes five points. The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that some of the points dealt with the nuclear program while the rest dealt with other unrelated matters. According to the same report, the Iranians are offering a series of practical steps that each side will carry out in exchange for the other side's step. The Iranians emphasized that their proposal is based on the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

After the afternoon talks, the sides took a break for a few hours to hold internal discussions on the proposals they had received. In the coming hours, the talks in Baghdad will be renewed and will probably continue on Thursday. It is also expected that a meeting will be held between Ashton and Jalili, without the representatives of other powers. A separate meeting is expected to be held between Jalili and the Chinese representative.

Ashton presented the world powers' proposal orally, not in a written document. The blogger Laura Rozen, who is in Baghdad to cover the talks, reported that the proposal includes a requirement that Iran suspend uranium enrichment at the 20 percent level at the underground Fordo facility near Qom and also that Iran agree to send abroad 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to the 20 percent level that is already in its possession.

Iran in return would receive a shipment of nuclear fuel from one of the six powers for the nuclear research reactor in Tehran and also have the old research reactor, which has severe safety problems, upgraded. In addition, the proposal includes the upgrading of the Bushehr reactor, both in safety and in possible assistance in the establishment of a new nuclear research reactor. The package also includes replacement parts for Iran's civilian aviation fleet, which suffers from serious maintenance problems.

Iran nuclear talks in Baghdad May 23, 2012 (Reuters)