While Israel continues to say the Iranians are using talks with the world powers
to waste time, Jerusalem is tellingly still not calling for them to be
discontinued, even as Tuesday’s “technical talks” in Istanbul led to nothing
more than an agreement to meet again.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine
Ashton issued a statement early on Wednesday morning saying that a “full day” of
“technical discussions” went on until 1 a.m., and that the P5+1 – the US, China,
Russia, France, Britain and Germany – provided further details of their
proposals given to Iran two months ago, and that Iran shared “further details of
Experts, the statement read, “explored positions on a
number of technical subjects.”
The technical meeting in Istanbul will be
followed by a meeting between Ashton’s top aid Helga Schmid and Ali Bagheri, the
deputy of Iran’s supreme national security council. No date, however, was given
for that meeting, which will be aimed at paving the way for further political
The negotiators in Istanbul on Tuesday discussed issues
such as Iran’s formerly clandestine Fordow facility near Qom, where high-grade
enrichment is taking place.
The six powers want the bunkered, underground
facility closed, but there are disagreements with the Iranian side on how this
could be done or what exactly is going on in Fordow.
One Western diplomat
said the two sides made some progress in bridging differences over various
issues, but that no political talks were scheduled yet.
“The meeting was
intended to get more clarity about each other’s positions.
I think that
worked well,” the diplomat said.
“In the late hours, a real discussion in
a form of questions and answers developed. Our task was not to bring positions
any closer, but to better understand it.”
Tuesday’s technical talks
followed three rounds of political negotiations – held in Istanbul, Baghdad and
Moscow – that did not bear any tangible fruit.
One Israeli official said
that Jerusalem has “seen no indication whatsoever, that the Iranians are using
these talks for any serious purpose other than to waste time. We have seen no
serious indication that the Iranians are even thinking about curtailing their
nuclear program, and we call on the international community to upgrade the
sanctions, and to be very clear in their demands of the Iranians.”
official said Israel wanted those demands to be an end to all enrichment – both
low and high – “and to present an Iranian regime with a simple message: that the
international community will under no circumstance tolerate the continuation of
the Iranian nuclear program.”
Israel’s position, not yet accepted by the
powers negotiating with Iran, is that without Iran feeling that it will face
military action if it does not stop its program, it will indeed have no
incentive to stop.
In Iran, meanwhile, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, vice
president and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said in an
interview with the Iranian Student’s News Agency that Iran emphasized in the
Istanbul talks its rights to use peaceful nuclear energy in accordance with the
Abbas-Davani criticized the P5+1 countries,
saying that their strategy in the talks had been based on the threat of war and
Regarding Iran’s enrichment activities, he said the West was
aware that “these activities take place under full IAEA supervision and that no
illegal activity is taking place”.
Joanna Paraszczuk and Reuters
contributed to this report.