Joby Warrick and Thomas Erdbrink
March 7, 2012
The United States and five other countries agreed to new talks with Iran on Tuesday, offering a diplomatic path to resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis after months of bellicose rhetoric that roiled markets and sparked fears of a new Middle Eastern war.
European Union officials in Brussels formally accepted an Iranian proposal to restart negotiations on its nuclear program, clearing the way for the first such meeting in more than year. The Obama administration cautiously welcomed the plan for talks but said the onus was on Iran to prove its sincerity.
“We will have a pretty good sense fairly quickly as to how serious they are,” President Obama told a news conference hours after the talks were announced. He called on Iran to agree to steps that would “provide the world with assurance that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”
… The new talks — which are expected to begin within weeks — would be the most significant de-escalation of a crisis that has been gathering steam since November, when U.N. nuclear officials publicly confronted Iran with allegations about past nuclear-weapons research.