Before meeting with Ms. Ashton, Kerry remained mum on the talks’ prospects, saying, “We hope that the talks in Almaty in a few days can show some further progress, perhaps open some additional opportunities.”
Kerry and Ashton represent four of the six powers set to meet with Iranian officials. The six countries sitting down with Iran are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Britain, Russia, China, and France – plus Germany. They’re hoping Iran will indicate at the initial meeting that it is ready to enter serious negotiations toward a deal to verifiably limit its advancing uranium-enrichment program.
Western nations say everything Iran is doing in its nuclear program – including enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, which is well beyond the level required for civilian power generation – suggests the country is secretly preparing to reach nuclear-weapons capability. Iran insists its program is for purely peaceful purposes.
Tehran has sent out mixed signals concerning the purpose of the Kazakhstan meeting. European officials say it has moved in recent months to accept that the talks must address Iran’s enrichment program and a package of measures for limiting its stockpiling of enriched uranium.