No deal reached on Iran talks but differences narrow

Uranium enrichment rights are ‘red lines’ - Rouhani says; negotiations to resume in ten days

Sun, Nov 10, 2013, 09:08

“We came to Geneva to narrow the differences and I can tell you without any exaggeration we ... narrowed the differences and clarified those that remain,” he said.

But he warned Tehran that Washington’s desire for a diplomatic solution to the long-running dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme was not infinite, saying the window for diplomacy “does not stay open indefinitely.”

Ministers from Iran and the major powers held a series of meetings late on Saturday in a final push for an outline of a deal that would freeze parts of Iran’s atomic programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

In the end, however, they chose to adjourn for 10 days. Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said they hoped an agreement would be signed later this month.

“We have done some intense negotiations and discussions and our objective is to reach a conclusion and that’s what we will come back to try and do,” Ms Ashton told reporters.

Mr Zarif said: “We had a very good three days, very productive three days, and it is something we can build on.”

The latest talks began on Thursday and Kerry unexpectedly arrived on Friday to help bridge differences and secure an agreement. From the time he arrived in Geneva, Mr Kerry played down expectations of a deal.

Mr Fabius, British foreign secretary William Hague and their counterparts from Russia and Germany, Sergei Lavrov and Guido Westerwelle, also attended, along with Chinese vice foreign minister Li Baodong, demonstrating the six-nation group’s commitment to reaching an agreement.

Mr Zarif, asked about the role Fabius played in the talks, did not criticize the French minister, saying disagreements at this stage of the negotiations were to be expected. “It was natural that when we start dealing with the details there will be differences of views and we expect it,” he said.

“I am not disappointed at all because the meeting we just had ... was a good meeting. “I think we are all on the same wavelength and that is important and that gives us the impetus to move forward when we meet again next time.”

The main sticking points in the talks include calls for a shutdown of an Iranian reactor that could eventually help to produce weapons-grade plutonium, the fate of Iran’s stockpile of higher-enriched uranium and the nature and sequencing of relief from economic sanctions sought by Tehran.

The powers remain concerned that Iran is continuing to amass enriched uranium not for future nuclear power stations, as Tehran says, but as potential fuel for nuclear warheads.

They are searching for a preliminary agreement that would restrain Iran’s nuclear programme and make it more transparent for UN anti-proliferation inspectors.

In exchange, Tehran would obtain phased and initially limited relief from the sanctions throttling the economy of the giant OPEC state.

Reuters

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