Low Expectations As Six-Party Talks Resume on Iran’s Nuclear Program

December 6, 2010 - 6:44 AM

Geneva (AP) - Iran and six world powers began negotiations about the country's nuclear program Monday with low expectations, at odds on what to talk about and with tensions high over the assassination of one of Tehran's most prominent scientists.

The talks in Geneva -- the first in over a year -- are meant to ease concerns over Iran's nuclear agenda. Tehran says it does not want atomic arms, but as it builds on its capacity to make such weapons, neither Israel nor the U.S. have ruled out military action if Tehran fails to heed U.N. Security Council demands to freeze key nuclear programs.

The meeting formally began shortly after 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) after limousines brought participants to a conference center near the Swiss mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

The delegations of Iran, the European Union, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany hurried inside to escape pouring rain, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief negotiator, in the foyer of the conference room.

As the doors closed to reporters, the two had joined the representatives of the other delegations sitting around a light brown oval wooden table, with flags of their nations behind them.

Despite the friendly atmosphere, expectations were low.

"Don't expect much of anything," a chief negotiator from one of the six powers inside the meeting told a reporter shortly before the talks convened. He asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The long-term aim for the six is nudging Iran toward agreeing to stop uranium enrichment, which can make both fuel for reactors and the fissile core of nuclear arms.

But Iran's defiance was highlighted Sunday when it announced it had delivered its first domestically mined raw uranium to a processing facility, claiming it is now self-sufficient over the whole enrichment process.