Moscow next for nuclear stalemate

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 31, 2012

Talks with Iran will resume next month in Moscow as a split has emerged between the international powers engaging the Iranian regime on its nuclear development programme.

Despite upbeat predictions by western diplomats before a second round of talks began last week in Baghdad, no progress at all was achieved and Baroness Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, and lead international negotiators managed only at the last moment to schedule a third round. The talks foundered over

Iran’s refusal to consider a framework proposal put forward by the group of five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany (P5+1) that would have limited the level of uranium enrichment to be carried out by Iran to five per cent and transferred out of the country the hundred kilograms of uranium, already enriched to a 20 per cent level.

Iran’s negotiating team, headed by its national security council secretary, Saeed Jalili, who is also the personal representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, insisted that the international powers first recognise
Iran’s right to enrich uranium and agree to ease the international sanctions, before Iran compromises on enrichment levels. The impasse led to a split among the six nations, in which the United States and the EU members refused to give in to the Iranian demands, while Russian and Chinese diplomats were prepared to discuss an easing of sanctions.

The second day of talks were extended and Baroness Ashton succeeded in reaching a compromise whereby the sides agreed to meet again in Moscow on June 18 for another two days of talks.

The Iranians agreed that uranium enrichment would be on the agenda, though they made no commitment to a compromise.

The Israeli government was not impressed by the results of two rounds of talks. Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Strategic Issues, Moshe Ya’alon, told IDF Radio on Tuesday that there is “no significant achievement except for the Iranians having been given another three weeks or so to pursue the nuclear project until the next meeting in Moscow.” Mr Ya’alon said: “There does not seem to be any sense of urgency, and perhaps it is even in the interest of some players in the West to stretch out the time, which would certainly square with the Iranian interest.”

Last updated: 1:43pm, May 31 2012