Iran N-talks: No breakthrough, but step forward
Almaty (Kazakhstan): The latest round of talks between six world powers and Iran on its nuclear programme has been "definitely a step forward", although it ended with no clear breakthrough, Russia's top negotiator on Iran said.
"Definitely, it is a step forward. There is no doubt in this," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said at the end of the two-day talks in Almaty.
He said the talks were "detailed" although the sides failed to "reach common ground".
"At this time again, we have failed to embark on a true search for a compromise," the negotiator said.
"But a basis for this exists," he said, adding that Iran has introduced its approach which takes into account some "proposals and considerations" of the group of six international negotiators comprising five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany (P5+1).
Ryabkov also said Russia is against the West's unilateral sanctions on Iran, calling this stance "unjust and inconsistent with the norms of international law".
He said Iran must be freed from all the international sanctions in case it agrees that its nuclear programme will be under full control of the UN nuclear watchdog.
"If such a deal takes place, then Iran must be fully freed from all the sanctions," Ryabkov said.
Iran's new plan is meant to bring about "the beginning of new cooperation" with its negotiating partners, Ali Bagheri, the deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said.
The plan expands on the initiatives presented during last year's round of talks in Moscow, Bagheri said giving no details of the plan.
At a briefing after the talks, Tehran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili confirmed that the Iranian side has introduced its action plan but the group of six powers was not ready to react and asked for some time to study Iran's ideas.
Jalili stressed that Iran has a right to enrich uranium and Tehran will use this for peaceful civilian energy needs.
He added however, that the issues related to Iran's cooperation with the international community may be discussed at further talks.
"We have offered this initiative and today we also announced out readiness to speak of these ideas and further study them. And these ideas may become the beginning of a new round," Jalili said.
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the negotiations between Iran and six world powers showed that their positions "remain far apart on the substance".
Iran insists on its right to a peaceful nuclear programme, but the P5+1 group says the country may be in fact on track to develop its own nuclear arms.
The international group, active since 2003, initially pushed for Iran to abandon its nuclear programme.
But it softened its stance at the previous round of talks in Almaty in February, where it proposed to accede to Iran's right to nuclear research if Tehran manages to prove it would not enrich uranium to above 20 percent, which is sufficient for medical, but military purposes.
Another demand was to close a nuclear plant known since 2009 to operate in the village of Fordo in northern Iran.
Tehran's nuclear programme resulted in international sanctions against the country, which left its oil-dependent economy flagging.
However, the public opinion in Iran is generally considered to be supportive of the nuclear programme - which is a major factor for official Tehran's position, given that the country goes to the polls in June to elect a new president.