Iran rejects demand that it ship out its processed uranium before talks
It's becoming obvious that there is going to be precious little to talk about with Iran by the time negotiations start over its nuclear program.
That's because they've ruled out even discussing the halt of uranium enrichment - a condition Israel demands be met - and now they see no need to ship out their processed nuclear material prior to talks, despite this being a long standing US condition.
Gee - it's like they want to fool us into thinking they're reasonable, or something.
Iran on Sunday rejected the West's demand to send sensitive nuclear material out of the country but signaled flexibility on other aspects of its atomic activities that worry world powers, ahead of renewed negotiations this week.
Talks about Iran's nuclear programme, due to start in Geneva on Tuesday, will be the first since the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has tried to improve relations with the West to pave a way for lifting economic sanctions.
Rouhani's election in June to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised hopes of a negotiated solution to a decade-old dispute over Iran's nuclear programme that could otherwise trigger a new war in the volatile Middle East.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi's comments on Sunday may disappoint Western officials, who want Iran to ship out uranium enriched to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, a short technical step away from weapons-grade material.
However, Araqchi, who will join the talks in Switzerland, was less hardline about other areas of uranium enrichment, which Tehran says is for peaceful nuclear fuel purposes but the West fears may be aimed at developing nuclear weapons capability.
"Of course we will negotiate regarding the form, amount, and various levels of (uranium) enrichment, but the shipping of materials out of the country is our red line," he was quoted as saying on state television's website.
In negotiations since early 2012, world powers have demanded that Iran suspend 20-percent enrichment, send some of its existing uranium stockpiles abroad and shutter the Fordow underground site, where most higher-grade enrichment is done.
In return, they offered to lift sanctions on trade in gold, precious metals and petrochemicals but Iran, which wants oil and banking restrictions to be removed, has dismissed that offer. It says it needs 20-percent uranium for a medical research reactor.
However, Araqchi's statement may be "the usual pre-negotiation posturing", said Middle East specialist Shashank Joshi at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London.
"It is easy to imagine a compromise whereby Iran would ship out only some of its uranium, allowing the negotiating team to claim a victory. There are many potential compromises that will be explored," Joshi told Reuters.
"Compromises?" That's pretty delusional. Iran is not going to give anything up that would prevent it from building a bomb out of pre-existing parts that could be assembled in a matter of weeks. That includes enriched uranium.
We'll see what other delusions the administration is suffering from relating to Iran when the talks get underway.