Kazakhstan: Iran Nuclear Talks Break Down
International negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program broke down without result in Almaty on April 6.“Over two days of talks, we had long and intensive discussions on the issues addressed in our confidence-building proposal put forward during the last round of talks with Iran in Almaty on 26-27 February,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who chairs a six-nation group negotiating with Iran, said in an emailed statement.It became “clear” that the positions of the six-nation P5+1 group (consisting of the five UN Security Council permanent members – the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France – plus Germany) and Iran “remain far apart on the substance,” the statement said.The last round of talks, in February, left some participants cautiously optimistic a breakthrough might be in the works. Those talks, which were also held in Almaty, unfroze an eight-month deadlock and, when they concluded, the parties agreed to keep talking. This time there was no agreement to meet again; it was “agreed that all sides will go back to capitals to evaluate where we stand in the process,” Ashton’s statement said.The sides are at odds over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes but the international community is concerned is aimed at making an atomic bomb.In February the six-nation group made a new proposal to Iran. Negotiators have been tight-lipped about the details, but Reuters reported on April 3, citing unidentified Western officials, that the six-nation group offered to ease gold sanctions and relax a petrochemicals embargo in return for Tehran suspending medium-level uranium enrichment.Iran’s response was based on a proposal it had already made in Moscow last year. At a briefing on April 5, an Iranian official described Tehran’s position as aiming to “establish a new bedrock… for cooperation.”A Western diplomat told journalists the same day that international negotiators were “somewhat puzzled by the Iranians' characterization,” describing Tehran’s position as “mainly a reworking of what they said in Moscow.”“Of course there is some distance between the positions of the two sides,” the Iranian delegation said in a final statement, which also called for “an end to behaviors which are a sign of enmity towards the people of Iran.”Ashton plans to call chief Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili to “to see how to go forward,” her statement said.