Iran agrees to more talks on nuclear programme
Iran and six world powers agreed on Saturday to try to thrash out a solution to the impasse over Tehran’s nuclear programme, resolving to meet again in five weeks’ time for detailed negotiations.
At the end of the first talks between Iran and world powers in more than a year, all sides agreed to meet in Baghdad on May 23rd to try and forge a confidence building agreement that could prevent an Israeli or US attack on Tehran.High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article.
At the conclusion of Saturday’s talks in Istanbul, western diplomats made clear there had not been any concession by Iran over any aspect of its nuclear programme, which many states believe is aimed at building a bomb.
However, western diplomats said an important success of the meeting was that Sayeed Jaleeli, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, did not set hefty conditions for continuing talks as he did at the last encounter in Istanbul in January 2011.
“At our last meeting, Jaleeli said Iran would not enter into talks unless we first guaranteed their right to enrich uranium and lifted all sanctions,” said a European diplomat. “That demand was not repeated and this must be deemed a success.”
The agreement to set a date for the next meeting and continued unity by the six world powers at the talks – the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China – were also deemed by western diplomats to be positive outcomes.
Dr Jaleeli described the meeting as “successful” and “a move forward”while agreeing with his interlocutors that the talks should be based on a ”step by step reciprocal approach.”
That said, diplomats cautioned against expecting a firm agreement at next month’s Baghdad meeting, insisting more encounters may be needed afterwards.
“We may need more meetings after Baghdad,” said a diplomat. “But my masters will not be happy if we are still mucking around like this towards the end of the year. Our patience is great but the world is a dangerous place.”
The focus of the Baghdad meeting will be to get Iran to agree measures that build international confidence that it does not seek nuclear weapons capacity.
One such measure, say diplomats, would be a move by Iran to ship a large stock of its more highly enriched uranium out of the country to be reprocessed in a way that ensures it cannot be weaponised.
However, there was no guarantee from Dr Jaleeli that Iran would do this. Moreover, the six powers must agree among themselves over the next five weeks how they would respond if Iran were to make such a move. Iran is likely to demand that existing sanctions on the country’s oil and banking sectors must be scaled back if it makes significant concessions.
However, US and British diplomats said such a move was not yet the policy of their governments. The US delegation said Iran had displayed a willingness to negotiate, but cautioned that further progress was far from certain and that pressure would not be lifted on Tehran until it took steps to address the concerns about its nuclear programme.
“We all understand that we do not have an indeterminate amount of time,” said a senior US official. “The Iranians understand that; they want sanctions relief and the full weight of sanctions have not yet kicked in and won’t until July.”
The official added that dialogue alone was not enough to lift sanctions, adding that it was deeply unlikely that the Baghdad meeting would resolve the dispute as a whole, even though it could reach agreement on interim confidence building steps.
“For me to come out of one meeting, one discussion, anything but continuing to be wary would not be realistic,” the official said.
“There is no reason to believe yet that we will make all of the progress that we want to make; there is reason to believe there is an environment that maybe conducive to doing that, but it has not been fully tested yet.