Iran, P5+1 talks yield only another meeting

Despite a lack of enthusiasm, Jerusalem is, tellingly, still not calling for talks to be discontinued.

By
July 5, 2012 00:49
3 minute read.
Iran- P5+1 nuclear negotiations in Baghdad

Baghdad nuclear talks 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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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 their proposal.”

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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 negotiations.

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.

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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.”

The 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 Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Abbas-Davani criticized the P5+1 countries, saying that their strategy in the talks had been based on the threat of war and sanctions.

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.

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