No great expectations over Iran talks

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 8, 2014
Mark Zuckerberg (Photo: AP)

Mark Zuckerberg (Photo: AP)

The Obama Administration tried this week to downplay expectations of a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme being reached in talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers, scheduled to take place next week in Vienna.

While Iranian and Russian officials have said that significant progress had been made in recent talks between experts, White House Spokesman Jay Carney emphasised that many issues remain unresolved.

According to Iranian reports, revised blueprints of the planned heavy-water reactor at Arak have resolved the concerns that plutonium from the reactor could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

However, even if a deal is reached regarding Arak, Israel and the Western powers have demanded that Iran greatly reduce its uranium enrichment programme and also address the issue of “delivery methods,” chiefly regarding Iran’s long-range missile capacity. Iran has so far refused to link its missile programme to the ongoing nuclear negotiations.

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice arrived in Israel on Wednesday for the annual US-Israel strategic discussion, at which next week’s talks in Vienna will be considered.

The Americans have clarified that the stalled diplomatic process with the Palestinians will not be discussed during the Rice visit.

Meanwhile, in what seems to have been another clash between the hardliners and the government of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, an attempt to block the Whatsapp messaging service in Iran has been vetoed. The censorship board reportedly moved to block Whatsapp because it is owned by Facebook, whose founder, Mark Zuckerberg is described by Iran’s “Committee on Internet Crimes” as a “Zionist Jew.”

Facebook and Twitter are still officially blocked in Iran (though President Rouhani and other senior leaders are prolific tweeters). But according to the Iranian media, the president overturned the decision regarding Whatsapp.

Last updated: 7:45pm, May 8 2014