Leading U.S. senators say Iran must end all uranium enrichment, potentially putting them at odds with the Obama administration ahead of new nuclear talks.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, six Democrats and four Republicans support this week’s negotiations in Geneva. They also seek tougher sanctions on Iran and a convincing threat of U.S. military force.
But the most contentious demand concerns enrichment. The legislators, including Sen. Bob Menendez, the Foreign Relations chairman, and Sen. John McCain insist Iran shouldn’t able to continue enriching uranium inside Iran.
Obama recently recognized Iran’s right to nuclear energy. But he hasn’t said enrichment is acceptable in Iran, as Tehran demands.
The U.S. and world powers suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is for peaceful energy purposes.
Iran is promising a new proposal to break the deadlock over its nuclear program when it resumes talks Tuesday with the U.S. and five major world powers — the first since the election of a reformist Iranian president.
The U.S. and its partners are approaching the talks with caution. They are eager to test Tehran’s new style since the June election of President Hassan Rouhani but insist that it will take more than words to advance the negotiations and end crippling international sanctions.
Heading Iran’s delegation at the talks is Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, a veteran, U.S.-educated diplomat who helped negotiate a cease-fire with Iraq 25 years ago. He says his country is ready to allow more intrusive international perusal of Tehran’s nuclear program.