Iran's top nuclear negotiator says Tehran plans talks on its nuclear program with European Union negotiators from Britain, France, and Germany, as a western deadline to possibly refer to the issue to the United Nations Security Council looms. Ali Larijani announced the new talks after a third round of negotiations in Moscow ended without word of a breakthrough.
The latest round of talks on a Russian compromise proposal to enrich uranium for Iran ended like all the others - with no word of progress, other than the mention of more talks planned.
Only this time, Iran says it will be meeting officials of the three main EU member states (or troika) Britain, France and Germany. Larijani told reporters in Moscow the talks will be held by next Monday's deadline for the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible punitive sanctions.
Nikolai Zlobin is a program director at the World Security Institute in Moscow. He predicts Iran's talks with the European Union will be more of the same, with nothing of substance to show for them.
Zlobin told VOA that, in his view, Iran's main goal is to put off a decision as long as it can, all the while attempting to portray itself as showing good will.
Leaders in the United States and Europe have begun to suspect much the same, yet various officials, including President Bush, continue to hold out hope for Russian efforts at a compromise.
But speaking through a translator, Iran's Larijani lashed out at the United States, saying that its insistence to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council was essentially undermining the Russian compromise proposal.
The Russian proposal under discussion calls for Iran to give up its right to enrich uranium in order to ease western concerns that Tehran could use spent fuel to build a nuclear weapon. Iran denies its program is for anything other than civilian means and has repeatedly refused to give up the right to enrichment, which has proven the ultimate stumbling block in any and all negotiations.
The State Department says Iran conducting its own enrichment is reason enough to take it before the U.N. Security Council.
In Malaysia, visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad maintained his tough stance, saying Iran will not negotiate, what he called, its inalienable rights to have a nuclear program.