Turkey prepares for UNSC presidency as Iran talks loom

Turkey prepares for UNSC presidency as Iran talks loom

Turkish Ambassador to the UN Ertuğrul Apakan votes against sanctioning Iran during a session of the UN Security Council on June 9.

August 20, 2010, Friday/ 16:20:00
Turkey will take over the rotating presidency of the 15-member UN Security Council on Sept. 1 for one month, as talks on a standoff over Iran’s nuclear program are expected to resume.

Iran said it was ready to resume long-stalled nuclear talks with world powers in September, after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is over, despite sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, the United States and the European Union on the Islamic republic.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking late last month, said he also wanted Turkey and Brazil, which brokered a nuclear fuel swap deal with Tehran and then voted against UN sanctions at the Security Council, to be part of the new talks.

But the two countries are not expected to join the talks with Iran despite the Iranian desire to that effect, the Anatolia news agency, citing diplomatic sources, said on Thursday. For now, it is just a wish and the consent of all parties involved in the talks is needed so that it can become reality, the agency said.

Last month, a spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the EU’s chief foreign policy official, said the 27-nation bloc will discuss with international mediators Tehran’s proposal to include Turkey and Brazil in the talks. The spokesperson then said the decision would be made after consultations with all sides.

Iran said in a recent letter to the UN atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that Iran was ready to unconditionally start talks on the proposed uranium exchange plan and that it wanted Turkey and Tehran to also join the negotiations.

But the Vienna group, comprising the IAEA, the United States, Russia and France, has so far not commented on the Iranian request. The exact date of the new talks will be set on the basis of the Vienna group’s response to the Iranian letter to the IAEA.

In May Turkey and Brazil reached an agreement with Iran according to which the latter would ship 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium to Turkey and would receive 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium in the form of fuel rods in exchange. But the agreement failed to stop sanctions at the UN Security Council, imposed in June.

The United States and the EU later imposed extra unilateral sanctions on Iran, including tougher restrictions on the energy sector and a harsher trade embargo.

Turkey became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2009 and its two-year term at the powerful world body expires at the end of this year. The United States, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, expressed disappointment over Turkey’s “no” vote on sanctions against Iran.

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