Iran and the European Union trio -- Britain, France, Germany -- here on Wednesday began their first round of nuclear talks behind closed doors after a five-month suspension.
Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Deputy for International Affairs Javad Vaeedi heads the Iranian team negotiating opposite 12 senior experts and managers of Germany, France and Britain.
The SNSC Deputy for Economic Affairs Mohammad Nahavandian, Deputy Head of Iran Atomic Energy Organization for International Affairs Mohammad Saeedi, Iranian Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammad-Mehdi Akhoundzadeh and Deputy Director-General for Political and International Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh are the other members of the Iranian delegation.
Nuclear talks between Iran and Europe were suspended in August by the European side following Iran's announcement it was resuming uranium enrichment at its uranium conversion facility (UCF) in Isfahan.
The talks will focus mainly on whether to resume negotiations in January 2006 or suspend talks as a result of continued differences.
A Western diplomat told IRNA here Wednesday that there are few expectations in this round of talks because it is a "dialogue for dialogue." While US officials and the three European negotiators stress Iran's abandonment of uranium enrichment activities, senior Iranian nuclear officials insist on Iran's legal and undeniable right to complete the nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment, inside the country, and have made it known that Iran would not abandon such a right under any circumstance.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad, in a speech in this year's UN General Assembly session, invited foreign companies to participate and invest in its nuclear projects and Tehran has said this would be the best assurance by Iran that its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes, but Europe has not given any response.
Another Western diplomat told reporters here that in this round of talks Europe's nuclear negotiators have acknowledged they would be fighting an uphill battle in trying to convince Iran to suspend its nuclear activities.
Hopes are dim in these negotiations, but still it is a step forward, he said.