Iran Hopes Nuclear Dispute Will Be Settled at Baghdad Meeting

Foreign Minister calls previous round of talks a 'beginning for ending the nuclear dispute,' expresses hope for further progress in May 23 meeting between Iran and six world powers.

Iran on Sunday expressed hope that the dispute over its controversial nuclear program would be settled at a May meeting with six world powers in Baghdad.

Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi told a press conference in Tehran, "[The April nuclear meeting in] Istanbul was the beginning for ending the nuclear dispute and we hope to put a total end to the case in the ... future," according to the ISNA news agency.

Salehi - AP - 29.4.12

"If one step ahead was taken in Istanbul, we will certainly take several steps ahead in Baghdad," he said.

The next round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - is to be held May 23 in Iraq.

Salehi said a two-day meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials in Vienna on May 14 was aimed at finding "a framework for future cooperation based on the standpoints of both sides."

He gave no further details and said "no pre-mature predictions" should be made before the Baghdad talks end.

The two sides have described the Istanbul talks as positive and constructive, but have not disclosed any details.

The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that President Barack Obama's administration would consider allowing Iran to enrich uranium to 5 per cent if Tehran agrees to inspections, oversight and other international demands.

Iran's ambassador to Russia, Reza Sajadi, said Thursday that Iran might accept snap inspections by United Nations nuclear experts by rejoining the IAEA additional protocol, but had certain conditions.

In 2005, Iran withdrew from the additional protocol, which provides for intrusive on-the-spot inspections by the IAEA, after the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Observers believe Iran would ratify the additional protocol again and commit to more IAEA inspections if, at the Baghdad meeting, there is an acknowledgment of Iran's nuclear rights and sanctions against it are lifted.