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October 16, 2013

Iran presents nuclear proposals at Geneva talks

GENEVA (AP) — Declaring that Iran no longer wants to “walk in the dark” of international isolation, Iranian negotiators put forward what they called a potential breakthrough plan yesterday at the long-stalled talks on easing fears that Tehran wants atomic arms.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said the Iranian plan’s formal name was “An End to the Unnecessary Crisis and a Beginning for Fresh Horizons.” He described it as having many new ideas but added negotiators had agreed to keep the details confidential during the morning bargaining session.

“We think that the proposal we have made has the capacity to make a breakthrough,” he told reporters.

Alluding to the international pressure over Iran’s nuclear program that has driven the country into near-pariah status, he said: “We no longer want to walk in the dark and uncertainty and have doubts about the future.”

Iran’s version of a grand bargain is for painful international sanctions to be lifted in exchange for possible concessions it had been previously unwilling to consider, such as increased monitoring and scaling back on uranium enrichment — a potential path to nuclear arms and the centerpiece of the impasse with the West.

European Union official Michael Mann said Iran’s PowerPoint presentation, presented by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, lasted about one hour.

Iran’s uranium enrichment program is at the core of the six world powers’ concerns. Iran now has more than 10,000 centrifuges churning out enriched uranium, which can be used either to power reactors or as the fissile core of a nuclear bomb. Iran has long insisted it does not want nuclear arms — a claim the U.S. and its allies have been skeptical about — but has resisted international attempts to verify its aims.

Tehran is now under international sanctions that are biting deeply into its troubled economy. Since the election of reformist Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in June, Iranian officials have said they are ready to compromise.

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