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Iran presents new nuclear proposals

Iranian negotiators call it ‘breakthrough’ plan

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif share a light moment at the start of the two days of closed-door nuclear talks on Tuesday at the United Nations offices in Geneva, Switzerland. Iran's overtures to the West are being tested as the U.S. and its partners sit down for the first talks on Tehran's nuclear program since the election of a reformist Iranian president. Negotiations between Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany began Tuesday morning. AP photo

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif share a light moment at the start of the two days of closed-door nuclear talks on Tuesday at the United Nations offices in Geneva, Switzerland. Iran's overtures to the West are being tested as the U.S. and its partners sit down for the first talks on Tehran's nuclear program since the election of a reformist Iranian president. Negotiations between Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany began Tuesday morning. AP photo

GENEVA — 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 Tuesday 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.

A member of one of the delegations meeting with Iran told The Associated Press the plan offered reductions in both the levels of uranium enrichment being conducted by Iran and the number of centrifuges doing the enrichment — both key demands from the six nations with Iran at the negotiating table. He demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge details.

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

The session resumed in mid-afternoon and a U.S. State Department official said the six powers were looking at further details of the Iranian presentation. The official demanded anonymity because she was not authorized to divulge details of the closed meeting.

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.

“We have seen some positive mood music coming out of Tehran,” Mann said. “But of course the most important thing is that they actually follow it up with concrete proposals that address our concerns.”

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