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For the first time in 15 months, Iranian diplomats met with representatives of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany to discuss Iran's controversial nuclear program. During the one-day meeting on October 1st, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns also met with Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili for a bilateral conversation -- the highest-level face-to-face contact between the U.S. and Iran in 3 decades.
U.S. President Barack Obama called the talks in Geneva a constructive first step, one which must be followed with meaningful action by the Iranian government:
"First Iran must demonstrate its commitment to transparency. Earlier this month, we presented clear evidence that Iran has been building a covert nuclear facility in Qom. Since Iran has now agreed to cooperate fully and immediately with the International Atomic Energy Agency, it must grant unfettered access to IAEA inspectors within 2 weeks."
President Obama said Iran must also take concrete steps to build confidence that its nuclear program will serve peaceful purposes - – steps that meet Iran's obligations under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.
One step that Iran has agreed to "in principle" is a proposal involving the Tehran research reactor which produces medical isotopes under IAEA safeguards. If implemented, Iran would export its own low enriched uranium, or LEU, for enrichment in Russia to the level needed in this particular reactor, fabrication into fuel elements, and supply the fuel elements to Iran for use in this safeguarded reactor. If it is implemented, this plan would significantly reduce Iran's LEU stockpile, which is a source of anxiety in the international community. Such a move, said President Obama, would help build confidence that the aim of Iran's nuclear program is, in fact, a peaceful one.
If Iran fails to take concrete steps in the near future to live up to its international obligations, President Obama said the United States will not negotiate indefinitely and is prepared "to move towards increased pressure." But if Iran's leaders take those steps, "There is a path," Mr. Obama said, "towards a better relationship with the United States, increased integration for Iran within the international community, and a better future for all Iranians."