Top level meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which tries to monitor Iran's nuclear activities, are often dominated by inconclusive debate between Iran and its critics on whether Tehran is in compliance or has broken treaty provisions.
"Under the NPT, the right of enrichment exists for all member countries," Jalili told reporters after the talks, suggesting his country would press that point at follow-up meetings. Ashton, in turn, told reporters that the six seek "to ensure all the obligations under the NPT are met by Iran while fully respecting Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy."
In its claim to comply with all NPT obligations, Iran asserts that it declares all its nuclear material and allows inspectors to monitor all nuclear facilities.
But IAEA chief Yukiya Amano has said repeatedly that because Iran does not cooperate fully with his agency it cannot guarantee that it is not hiding undeclared nuclear material that could be used for weapons. Additionally, he has spoken of compelling evidence that Iran may have worked on nuclear arms — charges Tehran dismisses as fabrications spread by the United States and Israel.
Officially, the international community's long-term goal remains what it was when nuclear negotiations began eight years ago — persuading Tehran to stop all uranium enrichment and thereby relieve fears that it will use that program to create fissile warhead material.
A senior diplomat involved in the talks said, however, that influential Western nations now are increasingly coming around to the idea that Iran should be allowed to keep some enrichment activity "under the right circumstances," sometime in the future, if all fears about possible Iranian plans to make nuclear weapons are put to rest. He demanded anonymity because his information was confidential.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.