Iran Stalling on IAEA, P5+1 Nuclear Talks

Iran yesterday, in meetings in both Vienna and Istanbul, again refused to enter serious diplomatic negotiations with the international community regarding the West’s heightened concerns that Tehran is developing a nuclear weapon.

In Vienna, the U.N. nuclear watchdog held a meeting with Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA. He told Reuters before the meeting that Tehran is “serious in these talks.” However, Western diplomats viewed Soltanieh’s statement with some skepticism.

The meeting in Vienna resulted in no progress:

Talks between the U.N. nuclear watchdog and Iran about Tehran’s nuclear program failed to clinch an accord and no date has been set for more meetings, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday.

“We had intensive discussions today but did not finalize the structured approach document that has been under negotiation for a year and a half now,” Herman Nackaerts, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters after meeting Iranian officials in Vienna.

Meanwhile in Istanbul, European Union representative Catherine Ashton met with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to break the deadlock after last month’s talks in Almaty and came away with nothing from the Iranian representatives. Following yesterday’s talks, Ashton said that “we talked about the proposals we had put forward and we will now reflect on how to go on to the next stage of the process.”

Despite describing the talks as “useful,” Ashton announced no plans for a new round of negotiations. In the meantime, Iran is moving forward with its nuclear program and constantly improving its enrichment capabilities. Earlier this year, Tehran announced the intended production of 3,000 advanced centrifuges for installation in its Natanz enrichment facility.

In Washington, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, the senior U.S. negotiator on Iran, said yesterday in a statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the P5+1 would “continue to maintain unrelenting and increasing pressure” on Iran.

[Photo: Parmida 76 / flickr]