Talks between Iran and world powers over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme ended Thursday with little more than an agreement to meet again next month in Moscow, according to news reports. The Baghdad talks were marred by Iran emphasising its right to continue to enrich uranium. In a televised news conference after the talks, Iranian chief negotiator Saeed Jalili said that a peaceful nuclear project was “an undeniable right of the Iranian nation … especially the right to enrich uranium.”
Disagreements also emerged between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) over whether to lift existing sanctions on Iran. Tehran wants any agreement to overturn an EU embargo on its oil exports to be phased in fully by 1 July. It also wants an end to trade and diplomatic sanctions imposed since 2006.
“It is clear that we both want to make progress and that there is some common ground,” European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters after talks. “However, significant differences remain. Nonetheless, we do agree on the need for further discussion to expand that common ground.”
Both Foreign Secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasised yesterday that sanctions on Iran would not be lifted unless Iran takes concrete steps to address the international community’s concerns regarding its nuclear programme. Hague warned of “intensified” sanctions if Tehran failed to respond seriously to the step-by-step process designed to restore international confidence, which was set out by negotiators.
Shortly after the talks, the head of the US negotiating team, Wendy Sherman, headed to Israel, where she is due to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers on Friday. Sherman will update Israeli officials on the talks in Baghdad, and on preparations for the third round of talks in Moscow in June.