Nuclear talks end without breakthrough

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Arak IR -40 Heavy Water Reactor , Iran [PHOTO: Nanking2012/CC BY-SA 3.0 ]


Almaty, Kazakhstan: Two-day meeting on Tehran’s nuclear programme between world power and Iran ended on Wednesday without no breakthrough so far.
However, Iran has said nuclear talks with world powers that the meetings were a "positive step" and announced Tehran's agreement to new rounds of negotiations.

After two days of talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Said Jalili said on February 27 that expert-level discussions between the two sides would be held in Istanbul on March 18, followed by another round of political negotiations on April 5-6 in Almaty.

Jalili said Tehran is open to cooperation with the international community regarding its production of uranium enriched to 20-percent purity.

However, Jalili appeared to rule out closing the underground Fordow enrichment plant.

Jalili said the international community's proposals were "more realistic" than in the past. Iran's foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, speaking in Vienna, said he was optimistic an agreement could be reached.

Despite low expectations coming into the talks, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had suggested progress was made in the February 26 session, noting that the six powers had offered to ease international sanctions if Tehran stopped enriching to 20 percent at Fordow.

The Almaty talks were led by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who oversees contacts with Iran on behalf of the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany.

The Almaty talks were the first since frustrating negotiations in Moscow eight months ago.

Reuters had quoted Western officials as describing the first day on February 26 as "useful."

One cited bilateral talks between Iranian officials and representatives of Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though the source stopped short of saying how Tehran appeared to view the incentives.

Iran denies seeking a nuclear weapons capability and says it wants to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
The UN's nuclear watchdog has accused Iran of a covert nuclear weapons program, and the UN Security Council has passed four rounds of sanctions aimed at discouraging sensitive nuclear activities by Iran.

Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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