EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (centre L) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (centre R) in Vienna April 9, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program appear to have hit a wall, as Iran charged Western powers on Friday with “excessive demands” for a peaceful resolution to the crisis while the US warned that running out of time for diplomacy.
The fourth round of negotiations in Vienna, with the goal of reaching a comprehensive solution to the longstanding nuclear impasse, ended without a press conference from the parties – a linchpin in previous rounds between Iran, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany.
An interim deal reached last fall grants world powers and Iran until July 20 to negotiate a comprehensive plan of action.
That deadline, however, can be extended an additional six months, should all parties agree more time is needed.
“The West should avoid having excessive demands,” the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted an Iranian source close to the country’s negotiating team as saying. “The Iranian nation has shown that pressure on them always backfires.”
The Islamic Republic’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said, “No tangible progress” had been made – but negotiations were hitting sensitive points of contention, and progress would invariably be slow.
“Talks have been slow and difficult. Significant gaps remain,” a US official said after the talks concluded. “Iran still has some hard decisions to make. We’re concerned that progress is not being made and that time is short.”
The US and Iranian statements might be designed in part to raise pressure on the other side, but they also betrayed stubbornly deep differences that must be overcome if intense diplomacy is to succeed in clinching