Iran Nuclear Talks End With No Progress
The latest round of talks aimed at finding at diplomatic solution to the problem Iran’s nuclear program have ended in apparent failure:
ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Negotiations over Iran’s disputed nuclear program broke off Saturday with scant signs of incremental progress, much less an agreement on tighter controls and tougher international oversight demanded by six world powers in exchange for some easing of sanctions that have a stranglehold on the Iranian economy.
The failure to reach any accord was a serious setback for the talks, which have become complicated by the Iranian presidential election just 10 weeks away.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said that after two days of “long and intense discussions,” the sides “remain far apart on the substance.”
No future negotiations were announced, and Ms. Ashton said she would be “in touch very soon” with the top Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, “in order to see how to go forward.”
Russia’s lead negotiator at the talks, Sergei Ryabkov, also sounded a dark note but said there was still hope for future discussions.
“Unfortunately, we failed to achieve a breakthrough,” Mr. Ryabkov, a deputy foreign minister, said at a briefing at the Russian Consulate in Almaty, according to the Interfax news service. “We’re still on the threshold.”
The futility of the talks was certain to arouse renewed alarm, particularly from Israel, which had tempered its repeated threats of a military strike against Iranian nuclear sites in deference to the diplomatic efforts.
The conclusion of the talks without even a modest confidence-building measure or the clear prospect of future talks was striking given that all sides seemed to have incentives to keep the conversation going, and avoid talk of military intervention.
It’s unclear where things go from here. Another round of sanctions designed to put even more of an economic squeeze on Iran in the hopes that this will lead them to make concessions seems probable, but the sanctions we’ve put in place so far have been pretty strong already and they’ve obviously gone nowhere. In any event, regardless of what happens on the sanctions front, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Israelis and others beating the drums of war again.