Iran’s deputy nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri was in an analytical program on state TV to explain what happened one week after the latest round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of United Nation Security Council plus Germany).
“In Almaty – 2, Iran forced the other side to start bargaining and enter into serious negotiations for the first time ever,” Dr. Bagheri said
“Iran clarified that it will only accept to take some of the steps of the P5+1 proposal in return for proper reciprocal steps. Dr. Jalili told the P5+1 delegates that we can either take proper, reciprocal and simultaneous steps or not take any steps at all,” adding that due to the importance of making decisions, the P5+1 delegates needed to consult with their capitals so: “ they proposed to have another meeting and Dr. Jalili agreed. Although he had already said in the talks that Iran is ready to continue talks and go into details even now.”
“In fact, we demanded that the other side make its decision and the ball is now in P5+1’s court,” Bagheri said.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There was intensive dialogue on key issues at the core [of the proposed confidence building measures]. Both sides came away with a better understanding of each others’ positions,” a senior U.S. official said.
Western diplomats had offered limited sanctions relief on Tehran. In return, they had asked Iran to suspend its 20% uranium enrichment but Tehran reiterated it needs to use it in a medical-research reactor.
The undersecretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for Foreign Policy and International Security said in his interview with state TV that “The lack of the P5+1 political directors having enough authority was the main obstacle to reaching an agreement in Almaty.”
“They could neither leave the talks as a complete failure nor could they make a critical decision. So they decided to return to their capitals to consult with the real decision makers,” Bagheri said.
“Dr. Jalili told Ms. Ashton in Moscow last year, that the current level of the P5+1 negotiators aren’t [authorised for] decision making and she endorsed that fact.”
Another problem for reaching a breakthrough in the nuclear talks from Iran’s viewpoint is internal differences between the members (U.S, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, members of the so called P5+1 group).
“The differences between the stance of Russia and China and other members of the P5+1 are clear. But even the western members of the group do not have a unified position,” Bagheri said.
“Sometimes in the talks, when Dr. Jalili declared his stance on a specific subject, we faced different and conflicting answers from the western delegates of the P5+1.”
The differences between P5+1 becomes more significant after talks in Almaty.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by Russia Today describing the talks “definitely a step forward.” However, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague took a tougher line, urging Iran to “consider carefully whether it wants to continue on its current course and face increasing pressure and isolation.”
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany wrapped up their latest round of negotiations on April 6 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Speaking at a press conference after the talks, Jalili said that Iran provided a comprehensive operational plan to the P5+1 and it is now up to the group to decide on how to respond to the Iranian proposals.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the P5+1, said on the same day that the two sides of the negotiations “remain far apart on the substance” of the talks.
However, she added, “Indeed, we have talked in much greater detail than ever before, and our efforts will continue in that direction.”
The US, Israel and some of their allies claim that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program, with the US and the European Union using the false claim as pretext to impose illegal sanctions against Iran.
Tehran rejects the allegation over its nuclear energy activities, maintaining that as a committed signatory to the NPT and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.