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Updated: January 23, 2011 01:17 IST

Iran nuclear talks at a dead end

Atul Aneja
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Abolfazl Zohrevand, a deputy of Iran's Chief Nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, speaks to journalists outside the Ottoman-era Sultan Ahmed Mosque after he attended Friday prayers there following talks between Iran and world powers on Iran's nuclear programme at the historical Ciragan Palace in Istanbul. Photo: AP.
Abolfazl Zohrevand, a deputy of Iran's Chief Nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, speaks to journalists outside the Ottoman-era Sultan Ahmed Mosque after he attended Friday prayers there following talks between Iran and world powers on Iran's nuclear programme at the historical Ciragan Palace in Istanbul. Photo: AP.

Talks should respect nations' rights: Iran

The two-day talks between Iran and the six global powers have reached a dead-end with both sides failing to fix another date to continue their dialogue.

There was not much clarity on Saturday on the specific issues which caused the talks to falter. However, the European Union foreign policy chief, Catharine Ashton, who led the delegation with representatives from the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany, accused Iran of setting “preconditions” for advancing the dialogue.

“We had hoped to embark on a discussion of practical ways forward, and have made every effort to make that happen. I am disappointed to say that this has not been possible,” Ms. Ashton said. “No new talks have been planned.” She also said that the onus was now on Iran for resuming the dialogue. “The door remains open, the choice remains in Iran's hands,” she observed. Iran, on its part, did not appear inclined to discuss specific issues related to its nuclear programme, but wanted the Istanbul talks to focus on broad principles.

Iran's delegation head, Saeed Jalili, dismissed the assertion that Iran had imposed preconditions. “Any kind of talks and co-operation, as I underlined during the talks with Ms. Ashton, should be based on respecting nations' rights, including Iran's right to nuclear technology.” Iran has insisted that it would not halt nuclear enrichment, as is its right, underwritten by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Mr. Jalili said that Iran during the Istanbul talks had been interested in discussing broad principles and not ready to go into details about possible nuclear confidence building measures. “Iran had discussed certain necessities that need to precede any meaningful talks, such as strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and nuclear disarmament,” Iran's state-run Press TV quoted him as saying.

Iran's state-run news agency IRNA said Mr. Jalili had expressed Iran's readiness to continue talks on the basis of “common logic as well as respect for legitimate rights of world nations.”

According to the BBC, Ms. Ashton had proposed an updated nuclear fuel swap plan during the talks. Under a 2009 proposal, Iran was to transfer the bulk of its lightly enriched uranium to Russia, which in turn would send it to France for conversion into moderately enriched nuclear fuel rods, for use in a Tehran medical reactor. In talks mediated by Turkey and Brazil in May 2010, Iran had agreed to send 1,200 kg of its low enriched stocks, not to Russia, but to Turkey instead.

But, Mr. Jalili clarified on Saturday that on its part, Tehran found it premature to discuss the nuclear swap deal during the Istanbul talks. “Fuel swap can be the basis for cooperation between nations… and it could be a subject for further negotiations,” he observed.

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