Negotiations over Iran’s disputed nuclear program broke off Saturday with scant signs of progress, much less an agreement on tighter controls 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 stark but not surprising setback in a decade-long standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. While the talks have been complicated by the Iranian presidential poll just 10 weeks away, officials said the sides remained divided by fundamental disagreements, none of which are new.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, who led the talks for the six powers, said that after two days of “long and intense discussions,” the sides “remain far apart on the substance.”
No future negotiations were announced, and Ashton said she would be “in touch soon” with the top Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, “ito see how to go forward.”Jalili offered a sharply different summary, saying at a briefing that the next move was up to the big powers, and that they needed more time to digest a new proposal from Iran. He said the proposal was based on a plan first put forward in Moscow in June and aimed at addressing some of the international community’s concerns.
But he also reiterated that Iran’ has a right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes.