Iran declares ‘breakthrough’ in nuclear stand-off with West


Iran said it had presented a “logical” proposal in talks with six world powers aimed at achieving a breakthrough in a decade-old stand-off over its contested nuclear programme that has raised the risk of a new Middle East war.

The Islamic Republic began negotiations in earnest with the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany two months after President Hassan Rouhani took office promising conciliation over confrontation in world relations.

After years of ideological defiance, Iran appeared keen for a negotiated settlement to win relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy.

Details of the Iranian proposal  were not immediately available. Western diplomats have cautioned in the past that Tehran has refused to offer sufficient nuclear concessions to secure a deal. But both sides signalled that the atmosphere, at least, in the initial session was positive.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said the global powers had “welcomed” Tehran’s proposals and the substantive details would be discussed later in the day.

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

The West suspects Iran is trying to develop the means to make nuclear weapons behind the screen of a declared civilian atomic energy programme. Tehran denies this but its refusal to limit activity applicable to producing atomic bombs, or to permit inspections, has drawn severe sanctions.