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!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • 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.