TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian nuclear negotiators will offer a new proposal Tuesday that is intended to convince world powers that the country's nuclear program has only peaceful aims, a top official said Sunday.
The announcement came from Abbas Araghchi, deputy foreign minister and one of Iran's negotiators in the nuclear talks set to begin in Geneva. Araghchi told Iranian news media that his team would present a three-step plan that would secure the independence of Iran's civilian nuclear program while giving assurances that the country is not trying to assemble atomic weapons.
"We need to move towards a trust-building road map with the Westerners," Araghchi told the Islamic Student News Agency in an interview. "To them, trust-building means taking some steps in the nuclear case, and for us this happens when sanctions are lifted."
Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, has promised Iranians that he would end the 10-year standoff with the West over the nuclear program. The sanctions have seriously impeded Iran's ability to sell oil and have cut the country off from the international banking system.
Araghchi did not discuss details of the new plan. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posted a message on his personal Twitter account Friday saying new proposals from his country would be presented in Geneva on Tuesday and not before. "No speculations please (of course if you can help it!!!)," he wrote.
Among the West's concerns that Iran seems prepared to address in Geneva are the country's growing stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which is only a few technical steps away from being suitable for building weapons.
Iranian officials have suggested that the stockpile could be diluted to a lower level or be used to make relatively harmless fuel cells for a research reactor in Tehran.
"Of course we will negotiate regarding the form, amount, and various levels of enrichment," Araghchi said on state television Tuesday. But he seemed to dismiss a proposal raised by the West in earlier talks that some of Iran's nuclear material be sent abroad for reprocessing.
Western officials also want Iran to stop enriching uranium up to 20 percent and close its underground enrichment bunker in Fordo. Hard-liners in and out of Parliament have vowed in recent days that those steps would never happen. But Iran's political establishment seems determined to resolve the nuclear issue as long as there are "positive signs" from the West, insiders close to Rouhani's government say.