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US sees more sanctions if no results in Iran talks

Iran Nuclear Programme

U.S. says talks cannot go on indefinitely; Sanctions to follow if concerns not addressed; Tehran urged to take concrete steps

June 20, 2012 3:30 by

Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme will not last indefinitely and Tehran should expect more sanctions if it fails to address international suspicions over the nature of its work, a senior U.S. administration official said on Tuesday.

Speaking after two days of discussions in Moscow between Iran and six world powers that failed to produce a breakthrough, the official said Iran needed to take concrete steps to avoid further economic pressure.

“Sanctions will be increasing. We have told the Iranians there will be more pressure coming if this (lack of progress) proceeds forward,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The six powers and Iran agreed on Tuesday experts from both sides would meet next month to discuss technical details of how Iran could address international concerns that it is building an atom bomb and what Tehran could receive in return.

But the U.S. official said negotiations on a political level – ones that could yield agreements – would be held only if there were signs Iran was engaging properly in discussions.

“We are not going to get trapped in a process that we think is not a productive one, so we are taking it step by step. We want to see Iran will make a choice to make concrete progress,” the official said.

In discussions on Monday and Tuesday in the Russian capital, which followed two other rounds of negotiations since April, Iran had given negotiators a “considerable level of detail” over its nuclear activities.

“But I want to be clear. A level of detail they provided, still left us with many questions. And they made assertions we obviously do not agree with … We have quite a long way to go,” the official said.

The six powers – the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany – want Iran to scale back its nuclear work and, in particular, stop enriching uranium to levels that bring it close to making an atom bomb.

Last month, and again in Moscow, the powers asked Tehran to shut down the Fordow facility where uranium is being enriched to the 20-percent level of fissile purity and ship any stockpile out of the country.

Iran denies its work has any military purpose and says the world powers should offer it relief from sanctions and acknowledge its right to enriching uranium before it meets their demands.

New U.S. and European sanctions are due to come into effect in the next two weeks.

The U.S. official said one area of disagreement in the Moscow talks related to how Iran characterises what goes on at the Fordow facility, adding that technical talks set for July should address these differences.

But, the official said, the six powers are eager to continue negotiations while they are producing results: “If we stop negotiations today, they will be making (20 percent) uranium every single day. So it is worth it to push the negotiations hopefully to a positive end.”

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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