No deal in sight on final day of Iran nuclear talks
ALMATY: Iran enters a second day of talks with world powers on Saturday no closer to resolving a nuclear dispute that has led to sanctions on its oil exports and talk of a new Middle East war.
The final day of negotiations is unlikely to achieve more than a willingness to keep talking, after Iran responded on Friday to a limited offer to ease sanctions with a proposal of its own that puzzled Western diplomats and which Russia said raised more questions than answers.
With all sides aware that a breakdown in diplomacy could move the decade-old standoff a step closer to war, no one in the Kazakh city of Almaty was talking about abandoning diplomatic efforts. But an actual deal was as far away as ever.
“We had a substantive exchange. But there is still a wide gulf between the parties. We are considering how we move on from here,” said one Western diplomat after five hours of talks.
With a June 14 presidential election looming in Iran, hopes for a breakthrough were slim even before Friday’s talks when Iran declined to accept or reject an offer to ease some sanctions in exchange for curbing some of its nuclear work.
Iran’s deputy negotiator Ali Bagheri said Iran had given a “detailed response to all the questions”.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: “Iran has given an answer to the proposals of the six powers. It is the kind of answer that creates more questions … But this shows that the negotiations are serious.”
Iran’s critics, which accuse it of seeking nuclear weapons capability, have accused Tehran in the past of using diplomacy as a stalling tactic and the latest inconclusive talks are unlikely to reassure Israel which says it could launch air strikes to stop Iran getting the bomb if necessary.