Nuclear Diplomacy: No Problem if Iran Continues Uranium Enrichment as Talks Progress, Feels European Union

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By Sunny Peter | October 3, 2013 3:45 PM EST

Iran's conciliatory approach at the UN and with the U.S. seems to be bearing some fruit. Notwithstanding Israeli opposition at the UN General Assembly annual debate on Tuesday, reports suggest Western governments are thinking about allowing Iran to continue some uranium enrichment. It could pave the way for smoother talks and better meeting of minds. The move comes after Iran said it wants to end its deadlock with Western powers on the issue of alleged nuclear weapons within the next six months. Coming after Iran's agitated retort to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's UN General Assembly "wolf in sheep's clothing" statement, this news from Brussels is bound to cool emotions in Tehran.  

The gesture means easing a key demand by Western powers that have insisted for Iran to suspend all enrichment activities due to concerns that it could be developing nuclear weapons. These thoughts were expressed on behalf of the EU by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius in an interview with Reuters.

"I believe part of the game is that if the Iranians prove that whatever they are doing is peaceful, it will, as I understand, be possible for them to conduct it," Mr Linkevicius was quoted as saying.

Importantly, Lithuania currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of 2013. Reuters notes that it gives Mr Linkevicius a closer insight into many internal policy debates.

Iran has all along refused to suspend its enrichment activities in spite of pressure from the UN Security Council and Western sanction. One of the UN Security Council resolutions demands Iran to put a "full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities."

Iran refusal to comply with UN resolutions comes from its argument that as a membership of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT), it has the right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology.

In his statement at the UN General Assembly 68th Annual Debate, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had reasserted his country's right to peaceful nuclear enrichment. He, however, offered a conciliatory approach my proposing immediate "time-bound" talks to resolve the nuclear issue.

As U.S. President Barack Obama respond to Iranian overture, restlessness in Israel was evident. The Israeli prime minister in a tight-fisted statement at the UN General Assembly, called the Iranian president "a wolf in sheep's clothing." He warned the international community that the only way diplomacy will stop Iran's "feverish efforts" to acquire nuclear weapons is to keep up international pressure through "tough" sanctions to ensure that the country fully dismantles its weapons programme and is prevented from having one in the future. 

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