Iran nuke talks remain stalled: Diplomats

Last Updated: Saturday, July 28, 2012 - 11:52

Vienna: A senior EU official is reporting no progress in the newest international push to persuade Iran to curb activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons, leaving the resumption of high-stakes negotiations with Tehran in doubt, diplomats said on late Friday.

A meeting Tuesday between senior EU envoy Helga Schmid and Ali Bagheri, Iran`s deputy nuclear negotiator, was an attempt to restart top-level nuclear talks between Tehran and six world powers after the last round in Moscow fizzled on June 19.

Neither side wants to give up the talks. Iran seeks relief from sanctions, including recently enacted international embargoes on its oil, its main source of revenue.

The US and other countries at the table with Tehran fear that the failure of negotiations could prompt Israel to make good on its threat to attack Tehran`s nuclear installations, a move that could draw Washington into the conflict.

The six want the Islamic Republic to end enriching uranium to a level that can be turned quickly into fissile warhead material.

Tehran refuses, says it is enriching only to make nuclear fuel and medical isotopes and insists it has a right to enrich under international law.

With no progress back in June, the two sides agreed to kick the talks down to low-level experts in an attempt to better understand each-others` positions.

That expert meeting in June was followed by the Schmid-Bagheri talks, which looked for signs of possible nearing of positions.

But one of two diplomats told The Associated Press that Schmid has reported "no progress" to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who in turn is informing the six powers — the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — of the results of the meeting.

EU officials said yesterday that Ashton will be talking to top Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili soon on the next steps. That potentially could result in agreement on a new six-power Iran round.

But the second diplomat said the lack of progress at the talks Tuesday could more likely mean that Jalili and Ashton agree only to have another Schmid and Bagheri meeting, or an even lower-level encounter, again at the experts` level.

The two diplomats are familiar with the results of the Schmid-Bagheri talks. They demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the substance of that confidential meeting.

PTI




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