Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

April 7, 2013

EU: No deal reached at nuclear talks with Iran

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Iran and six world powers failed to reach agreement Saturday on how to reduce fears that Tehran might use its nuclear technology to make weapons, extending years of inconclusive talks and adding to concerns the diplomatic window on reaching a deal with Tehran may soon close.

Expectations the negotiations were making progress rose as an afternoon session continued into the evening. But comments by the two sides after they ended made clear that they fell far short of making enough headway to qualify the meeting as a success.

“What matters in the end is substance, and ... we are still a considerable distance apart,” Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s head of foreign policy, told reporters at the end of the two-day talks.

Ashton, the convener of the meeting, said negotiators would now consult with their capitals. She made no mention of plans for new talks — another sign that the gap dividing the two sides remains substantial. She said she would talk with chief Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili by telephone over further steps.

Jalili spoke of “some distance between the positions of the two sides.” He suggested Iran was ready to discuss meeting a key demand of the other side — cutting back its highest-grade uranium enrichment production and stockpile — but only if the six reciprocated with rewards far greater than they are now willing to give.

Western negotiators noted an improved atmosphere from previous sessions, with Ashton speaking of “a real back and forth between us when were able to discuss details, to pose questions, and to get answers directly.”

She described the better negotiating climate as a ‘’very important element.”

Still, the lack of forward movement in international negotiations that started a decade ago was certain to increase concerns that diplomacy was ineffective as a tool to stop Iran from moving toward nuclear-weapon making capacity.

Israel is most worried. The Jewish state says Iran is only a few months away from the threshold of having material to turn into a bomb and has vowed to use all means to prevent it from reaching that point. The U.S. has not said what its “red line” is, but has said it will not tolerate an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.

“The Iranians are using the round of talks to pave the way toward a nuclear bomb,” said Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli minister for intelligence and strategic affairs, in a text message to reporters. “Israel has already warned that the Iranians are taking advantage of the rounds of talks in order to buy time to advance in uranium enrichment, step by step, toward a nuclear weapon.”

Urging the international community to set a ‘’short, clear and final timetable” for further talks, he said ‘’the time has come for the world to show a more aggressive position and make it abundantly clear to the Iranians that their game of negotiations is coming to an end.”

Any strike on Iran could provoke fierce retaliation directly from Iran and through its Middle East proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, raising the specter of a larger Middle East conflict and adding to the urgency of keeping both sides at the negotiating table.

At the talks in the Kazakh city of Almaty, the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany were asking Tehran to greatly limit its production and stockpiling of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which is just a technical step away from weapons-grade uranium. That would keep Iran’s supply below the amount needed for further processing into a weapon.

But the group views that only as a first step in a process. Iran is operating more than 10,000 centrifuges. While most are enriching below 20 percent, this material, too could be turned into weapons-grade uranium, although with greater effort than is the case for the 20-percent stockpile.

Tehran also is only a few years away from completing a reactor that will produce plutonium, another pathway to nuclear arms.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded a stop to both that effort and all enrichment in a series of resolutions since 2006. Iran denies any interest in atomic arms, insists its enrichment program serves only peaceful needs, says it has a right to enrich under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and describes U.N. Security Council demands as illegal.

The lack of progress at Almaty was a clear indication that Tehran wants greater rewards for any concessions that the six are ready to give. Among other incentives, they have offered to lift sanctions on Iran’s gold transactions and petrochemical trade. But Iran demands much more substantial sanctions relief, including an end to international penalties crippling its oil trade and financial transactions

A senior U.S. official cited Iranian officials who described the six-power offer of limited sanctions relief in exchange for meeting their demands on 20-percent uranium as a “turning point” when the two sides met last month. The official said the U.S. administration was “disappointed that this rhetoric did not carry over into our negotiations.”

The official demanded anonymity as a condition for participation in a post-meeting briefing for reporters.

Jalili in turn urged the six powers to demonstrate their “willingness and sincerity” by taking appropriate confidence-building steps in the future” — shorthand for Iran’s demand to lift major sanctions and offer other concessions.

At the same time, he suggested some potential give on the Iranian side, suggesting discussion on some curbs of 20-percent enrichment ‘’can be continued in the talks” if the six ‘’move away from hostile treatment ... of the Iranian people.”

With Iran previously describing the crushing sanctions on its oil exports and financial transactions as hostile acts, his comments suggested that Iran would consider compromise only if those penalties were lifted. That is far more than the relief being offered, with the six prepared to remove sanctions only on Tehran’s gold transactions and petrochemical exports.

In demanding recognition of its right to enrich, Iran may hope to exploit some differences among the six, with Russia in recent months pushing for concessions on that point as a way to break negotiating deadlock.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led his country’s delegation at Almaty, said after the talks that Moscow “considers that it’s necessary to recognize all rights of Iran, including enrichment.” In exchange, he said Iran must accept more international monitoring of its nuclear program.

A British Foreign Office statement said “a wide gap remains between the parties. Iran’s current position falls far short of what is needed to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough.”

Indirectly warning of further sanctions, the statement urged Tehran to ‘’consider carefully whether it wants to continue on its current course, and face increasing pressure and isolation from the international community, or to enter into meaningful negotiations.”

But Ryabkov described the meeting as “undoubtedly a step forward.” Those remarks, and his comments on enrichment, both to Russian news agencies, suggested differences exist among the six, despite assertions by negotiators from Western nations of total unity at the negotiations.

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

    A 15-year-old boy found his way onto an airport’s tarmac and climbed into a jetliner’s wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii — a misadventure that forced authorities to take a hard look at the security system that protects the nation’s airline fleet.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Death count in ferry sinking tops 100

    One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of this island, the first step in identifying a sharply rising number of corpses from a South Korean ferry that sank nearly a week ago.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP520422034 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 22, the 112th day of 2014. There are 253 days left in the year.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Immigration _Rich copy.jpg DHS secretary re-evaluating deportation priorities

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday he’s re-evaluating the Obama administration’s deportation priorities to make certain they’re focused on national security, public safety and border security, amid growing pressure from the Latino community and President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats. 

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rethinking Pot 420_Rich copy.jpg Public smoke-out marks pot holiday in Colorado

    Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Submarine Sleep Sched_Rich copy.jpg Navy OKs changes for submariners’ sleep schedules

    With no sunlight to set day apart from night on a submarine, the U.S. Navy for decades has staggered sailors’ working hours on schedules with little resemblance to life above the ocean’s surface.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Grim work for families as more bodies discovered

    There are no names listed as relatives huddle around signboards to identify bodies from a sunken ferry. Just the slimmest of clues about mostly young lives now lost. Many favored hoodies and track pants. One girl painted her fingernails red and toenails black. Another had braces on her teeth.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP600421099 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, April 21, 2014

    Today is Monday, April 21, the 111th day of 2014. There are 254 days left in the year.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Space Robot_Rich copy.jpg NASA’s Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nepal Everest Avalanc_Rich copy.jpg Another body pulled from snow in avalanche

    Search teams recovered a 13th body Saturday from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides in the deadliest disaster on the world’s highest peak.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results