Talks between Iran and the six global powers were in danger of stalling as negotiators failed to clamber over a few crucial areas of discord. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said after talks — between his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy head of the European Union (EU) — lasted a marathon four and a half hours on Friday that “no progress” had been achieved.
The sides have “common viewpoints in many cases, while there are serious differences in some cases”, said Mr. Araqchi in a conversation with Iranian state television. AFP quoted a European diplomat as saying that “fewer points” of differences remained. But he added that “obviously the remaining issues are the hardest ones” to crack.
With negotiators struggling to cross the final set of hurdles, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has decided to head for Geneva, to lend his weight to the talks. Israel has gone into overdrive to muster support for a complete enrichment ban on Tehran. On Friday, Iran reiterated that it would never give up its right to enrich uranium under rules defined by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that it has signed.
“Our right to enrichment is our red line. The enrichment program that Iran has will continue.... Any agreement should include enrichment programme for Iran. We will not accept anything else other than that,” said Mr. Zarif, in an interview with Iran’s Press TV.