Us, Russia Want Clarity On Iran Nuclear Issue

Credit: Reuters/Stringer MOSCOW | Tue Oct 8, 2013 11:50am EDT MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian court denied bail on Tuesday to three of 30 people arrested on piracy charges following a protest by environmental group Greenpeace against offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. All 30 face up to 15 years in jail if convicted for the protest in which a Greenpeace ship approached an oil platform owned by Gazprom, and have appealed against keeping them in custody through late November for further investigation. The court in the northern port city of Murmansk rejected the appeals filed by activist Andrei Allakhverdov, ship’s doctor Yekaterina Zaspa and Denis Sinyakov, a freelance photographer who documented the protest, Greenpeace said. All three are Russian. Hearings for the other 27, nationals of 18 countries – including activists who tried to scale the oil platform during the protest – are expected later this week. Greenpeace says the piracy charges against the activists and crew members are absurd and unfounded and that the conditions of detention have in some cases violated their rights. “They are now prisoners of conscience, and as such they are the responsibility of the world,” said Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International. The Netherlands launched legal proceedings against Russia on Friday, saying it had unlawfully detained the activists and others on the Dutch-registered icebreaker Arctic Sunrise. After the protest, Russian coastguard officers forcibly boarded and seized control of the ship. It was then towed to Murmansk and Russia has denied Greenpeace’s assertions that the ship had been in international waters when it was seized. (Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Steve Gutterman and Angus MacSwan)

Secretary of State John Kerry (on the sidelines of an economic summit in Indonesia) that Iran likely wants “more clarity” about the way forward. “Iran probably wants more clarity,” Lavrov said. “More specific steps to be spelled out on the road to the result which we all want to achieve. And I think this will be discussed next week in Geneva, a meeting to which Iran agreed. And to which Iran and three plus three are getting ready in a very constructive mood, as our contacts in New York show.” Kerry said the United States is encouraged by Iran’s recent outreach efforts, but that actions, and not words, are what will make a difference. “So what we need are a set of proposals from Iran that fully disclose how they will show the world that their program is peaceful,” Kerry said. “And we have made it clear that if there are those indicators, the United States and our allies are absolutely prepared to move in appropriate ways to meet their actions. Kerry said Iran has not responded to an offer the P5+1 group made earlier this year, which called for Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent and halt enrichment at one of its nuclear facilities. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday that offer was no longer valid, and that the P5+1 should come to next week’s negotiations with a “new point of view.” Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes and wants the international community to lift a range of sanctions imposed for its refusal to halt enrichment activity. The possible threat of a ballistic missile strike from countries like Iran has led the United States to plan a missile shield in Europe. Russia disagrees with the move, saying the system could neutralize its own strategic missile force and leave it vulnerable to the West. Kerry said Monday it is too early to make determinations about the system as long as the Iranian threat continues.