Iran All Smiles, West Wary After Nuclear Summit

Six Powers Will Meet Islamic Republic Again Next Month

getty images

By Reuters

Published February 27, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Western officials had made clear they did not expect major progress in Almaty, aware that the closeness of Iran’s presidential election in June is raising political tensions in Tehran and makes significant concessions unlikely.

“I hope the Iranian side is looking positively on the proposal we put forward,” said European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who led the talks on behalf of the powers. “We have to see what happens next.”

The United States did not expect a breakthrough and “the result was clearly in line with those expectations,” a senior U.S official said.

The meeting was “useful” as the two sides agreed dates and venues for follow-up talks but there was a need for progress on confidence building measures, the official added.

UNDERGROUND NUCLEAR SITE

The West’s immediate priority is that Iran halts higher-grade uranium enrichment and closes an underground facility, Fordow, where this work is carried out. The material is a relatively short technical step from bomb-grade uranium.

“What we care about at the end is concrete results,” the U.S. official said.

One diplomat in Almaty said the Iranians appeared to be suggesting at the negotiations that they were opening new avenues, but that it was not clear if this was really the case.

Both sides said experts would meet for talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul on March 18 and that political negotiators would return to Almaty on April 5-6.

Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov confirmed that the powers had offered to ease sanctions on Iran if it stops enriching uranium to 20 percent fissile purity - a short technical step from weapons grade - at the Fordow underground site where it carries out its most controversial uranium enrichment work.

Western officials said the offer of sanctions relief included a resumption of trade in gold and precious metals.

One diplomat said that lifting an embargo on imports of Iranian petrochemical products to Europe, if Iran responded, was also on the table. But a U.S. official said the world powers had not offered to suspend oil or financial sanctions.

The sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy and its chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, suggested Iran could discuss its production of higher-grade nuclear fuel, although he appeared to rule out shutting Fordow.

In comments in Persian translated into English, Jalili told a news conference Fordow was under the supervision of the U.N. nuclear watchdog and there was no justification for closing it.

MOOD “MORE OPTIMISTIC”

Asked about the production of 20-percent enriched fuel, he reiterated Iran’s position that it needed this for a research reactor and had a right to produce it.

Iran says its enrichment programme is aimed solely at fuelling nuclear power plants so that it can export more oil, and that Israel’s assumed nuclear arsenal is the main threat to peace in the region.

But Jalili did indicate that Iran might be prepared to talk about the issue, saying: “This can be discussed in the negotiations … in view of confidence building.”

Iran has also previously suggested that 20-percent enrichment was up for negotiation if it received the fuel from abroad instead. It also wants sanctions lifted.

“While an agreement to meet again may not impress sceptics of diplomacy, an important development did occur,” said Trita Parsi, an expert on Iran. “The parties began searching for a solution by offering positive measures in order to secure concessions from the other side.

Another expert, Dina Esfandiary of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said: “I note that the mood is more optimistic and that’s great, but a deal still hasn’t been reached and in my view its unlikely to be reached before the Iranian elections have come and gone.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.