THE world's six leading powers will try to defuse their nuclear-tipped confrontation with Iran today when talks open in Moscow 24 hours before a total European Union oil embargo is imposed on Tehran.
This measure, due to come into full effect on July 1, will cost Iran billions of dollars by banning any EU member state from importing the country's oil. By maximising the economic pressure on Tehran, the aim is to break the impasse over its nuclear ambitions. If today's talks break down, the chances of the confrontation being resolved by diplomacy will recede greatly.
The world powers have proposed that Iran stops enriching uranium to 20pc purity, hands over its stockpile of this material, and closes a formerly secret nuclear facility at Fordow.
This demand comes from the 'P5 plus 1', consisting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- America, Britain, France, Russia and China -- along with Germany. In return, they would relax some of the more minor sanctions on Iran.
But Hossein Mousavian, who served as an Iranian negotiator on nuclear issues between 2003 and 2005, described this offer as "diamonds for peanuts" and predicted that Tehran would say no when the talks began.
"We are ready on a voluntary basis to make a positive step if the other party makes a similar step," said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an interview with a German newspaper. (© Daily Telegraph, London)