PARIS, 23 Mar. (IPS) Started amidst fears of a clash, if not outright breaking, the last round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the European Union’s three main powers, namely France, Germany and Britain ended Wednesday in Paris with the two sides deciding to continue the talks.
"There was a constructive and positive climate," said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei, after the talks ended in Paris. The talks were to continue at a later date.
“There was no breakthrough, but no total collapse”, a diplomat close to the talks told Iran Press Service, adding “the good news is that they continue talking”.
The good news is that there will be a further discussion within the next few weeks.
European diplomats, speaking ahead of the talks, had said this would be the best possible outcome of the talks -- that Iran would agree to continue talking, the French news agency AFP had reported.
Prior to the meeting, several Iranian officials had threatened to break off negotiations with the Europeans if there was no progress made.
Ali Aqa Mohammadi, the Head of Iran's Supreme Council for National Security Foreign Propaganda Department had stated that Tehran was expecting European Union’s Troika to come up with an "understanding" that would allow Iran to resume uranium enrichment.
"If this does not happen, naturally it will be the end of the negotiations and we will return to our ordinary state and resume enrichment", he warned, repeating what Mr. Hoseyn Moussavian, another top negotiator with the EU and the IAEA has said earlier, that Iran would get out of the negotiation table if it feels that the Europeans are “dragging their feet”.
"There will be a further discussion within the next few weeks", Mr. Cirus Naseri, one of Iran’s senior negotiators told reporters, without giving any indication as when and where the next round of negotiations would take place.
He described the seven hours discussions held at the French Foreign Affairs Ministry as “tense, businesslike and intensive”, adding that Iran did not want the talks to “drag on forever”.
According to Mr. Naseri, Iran did not have a “specific proposal” concerning “objective guarantees” demanded by the Europeans and added that such guarantees needed more technical studies and work to be carried out in the coming weeks.
However, he restated Iran's position that giving up enrichment was not an option. "This is not something we are prepared to consider. However, as you know the Europeans have a view on that", he assured.
Iran has difficulties in making a definitive decision on nuclear issue.
Iran suspended all its activities for enriching uranium as a confidence-building measure but has made it clear that it would eventually resume the program if the Europeans fail to respect their pledges to provide Tehran with advanced nuclear technologies for peaceful uses, facilitate its entry into the Word Trade Organisation (WTO) and buy Airbus passenger planes.
However, they have so far failed to expel out if they would make the suspension of enriching uranium permanent against getting what the Big Three has promised?
In past negotiations in Vienna, Paris and Tehran, Iran presented “firm” proposals for enriching uranium to very low grade – 3.5 per cent – and placed under control of installations provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In a remarkable change of policy, the United States is now supporting the European initiative and recently, Ms. Condoleezza Rice, the new State Secretary said Washington would give the Islamic Iran “new incentives”, such as limiting the economic embargo and selling Iran passenger planes in case Tehran renounces all efforts to build nuclear weapons, an accusation that Iran vehemently rejects, insisting that its atomic projects are for civilian uses only, mostly producing electricity.
But Iran flatly rejected the initiatives. “If we accept that, they would accuse us for human rights behaviour. If we satisfy them on that point, they would accuse us of supporting terrorism etc..”, observed Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic said, referring to the American pressures and accusations.
Though one diplomat told AFP that the Iranians could on Wednesday provide details on how they would continue enrichment within the framework of a peaceful nuclear program, for which they claim the right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but it was not clear whether the Iranians did so.
Western diplomats also say that Iran has difficulties in making a definitive decision as the nation is approaching new presidential elections.
But Iranian political analysts say this is “plain nonsense” as the nuclear issue, like any other major foreign or domestic affairs, is decided by the orthodox leader of the regime and no one, including the president, can adopt a policy different of that decided by Mr. Khameneh’i.
In a recent statement, Mr. Khameneh’i, reiterating his decision to go ahead with the ongoing nuclear projects, said he was ready to wear battledress and go to war in case Iran is attacked.
He was referring to possible military intervention by the United States, one that experts say contrary to the analysis of Iranian military commander at the Revolutionary Guards, would consist of “flat bombing” – of all Iranian military and nuclear installations – rather than sending in troops and using land forces.
In a joint statement released after the meeting, the Troika said Iran had "presented certain ideas on objective guarantees that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes" and observed that “so far the three months of talks contribute to an enhanced relationship between the European Union and its so-called Big Three and Iran and set the stage for further progress in our negotiations".
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