Iran defiant on eve of new round of nuclear talks

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The Iranian delegation arrived in Kazakhstan on Thursday, Iranian media reports. They will meet with negotiators from the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman is leading the U.S. delegation, which includes Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Mike Hammer.

The two days of talks are expected to focus on the latest proposal from the U.S. and its allies, which would allow Iran to keep open its uranium enrichment plant at Fordo and retain a small amount of enriched uranium that Iran says it needs for medical research. Jalili welcomed the proposal when it was first offered at the end of the last bout of talks, in February.

“Of course, their proposal in Almaty seemed more realistic and it seems that they have come to the conclusion that they should behave more realistically,” he said. “They have come closer to the ... proposal presented by Iran, but the issue of cooperation can be helpful and they have reached this conclusion that they should take more realistic steps to come closer to Iran.”

Critics of the talks, notably in Israel, say the Iranians are just stalling for time, and Israel has vowed to take military action if it feels the country is about to reach the level where it can produce a nuclear weapon. President Obama has said he will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.