|Iran nuclear talks end in Almaty||
TEHRAN – Iran and world powers failed to reach any agreement during two days of talks over Tehran’s nuclear program in the Kazakh city of Almaty on Friday and Saturday.
At the end of the talks, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has been leading diplomatic efforts on behalf of the six major powers, told reporters, “Over two days of talks we had long and intensive discussions on the issues addressed in our confidence-building proposal,” Reuters reported.
According to AP, Ashton also said, “The two sides remain far apart on substance,” adding, “What matters in the end is substance, and… we are still a considerable distance apart.”
She added, “We therefore agreed all sides will go back to their capitals to evaluate on the process,” CNN reported.
Over two days of talks in Almaty, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany – known as the P5+1 – offered to ease some sanctions in return for Iranian concessions on its 20 percent uranium enrichment program, which lies at the heart of the controversy.
Iran says its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful and insists that its right to uranium enrichment, as enumerated in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, must be recognized.
Iran’s right to uranium enrichment must be recognized
Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council who is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, held a press conference after the talks and said that world powers must recognize Iran’s right to uranium enrichment and the West must stop acts of hostility against the Iranian nation to win Tehran’s trust.
“We welcome negotiations for cooperation while insisting on the legitimate rights of the Iranian nation and the right to enrichment,” he said, adding, “We had good negotiations, and we hope that the 5+1 sincerely presents its new proposals for taking confidence-building and reciprocal steps.”
According to Jalili, it was agreed that Ashton would hold a phone conversation with him after evaluating the process.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who represented Russia in the talks, told reporters, “Certainly, these talks were a step forward,” Reuters reported.
But he said, “We could not reach a compromise this time,” and he added that it was premature to name a date and venue for further talks.
After the first round of talks on Friday, Iran said it had offered “specific plans”, but a Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed there had been no “clear and concrete response”.
There has been little public discussion of the details of the proposal put forward by world powers in the previous round of talks in Almaty on February 26 and 27. However, according to the New York Times, the major powers demanded that Iran suspend enrichment work at the Fordo facility - where it enriches uranium to 20 percent - and agree to unspecified conditions that would make it hard to quickly resume production. They also said Iran could continue to keep a small amount of uranium enriched to 20 percent for use in the Tehran research reactor, which produces medical isotopes for cancer treatment.
Iran’s main demand is that its right to enrich uranium be recognized.
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