Iran nuclear: Ashton says positions 'still far apart'

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton emerges from talks in Almaty, 6 April Baroness Ashton said positions were "far apart"

Talks between world powers and Iran on its nuclear programme have ended without agreement, with the EU saying their positions "remain far apart".

Over two days of talks in Almaty, Iran was asked to give up work on its most sensitive nuclear activities in return for an easing of sanctions.

Iran said it was up to the world powers to demonstrate willingness to take confidence-building steps.

World powers suspect Iran of a covert nuclear weapons programme.

Tehran, which insists its intentions are peaceful, is negotiating with the so-called P5+1 group comprising the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Russia, China, the UK and France - plus Germany.

'No breakthrough'

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton confirmed no deal was reached.

"A robust and detailed back-and-forth on specific elements" is how a senior US official described 48 hours in Almaty.

"Some good negotiations," were the words used by Iran's Chief Negotiator Saeed Jalili.

By all accounts, there was more talking in the talks than in the past decade of tortuous negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme.

But it's underlined how wide the gaps are, how deep the mistrust is, how far they still have to go to achieve a negotiated solution.

And time is not on anyone's side. Both sides are under pressure to prove talks are not failing. But there was no agreement, not even on a date to meet again, although consultations and telephone calls are in the diaries.

Both sides believe the other is still asking for too much, for too little in return. Both believe the ball is in the other's court. But the onus still lies on Iran to prove its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, lest calls for military action grow ever louder.

"It became clear that the positions... remain far apart on the substance," she told reporters on Saturday.

"We have therefore agreed that all sides will go back to [their] capitals to evaluate where we stand in the process," she added.

"I think the first hurdle is take the proposal that we put on the table and get a real response to all of it... The challenge is to get real engagement so that we can move forward with this."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed there had been a "lack of results".

"Unfortunately we were unable to achieve a breakthrough and are still on the threshold," he was quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax news agency.

According to AFP news agency, he also said no time or place for the next talks had yet been agreed.

Tehran's chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency: "We proposed our plan of action and the other party was not ready and they asked for some time to study the idea."

At a previous round of talks in Kazakhstan in February, the P5+1 tried to push Tehran to halt production and stockpiling of uranium enriched to 20%.

The P5+1 also demanded Iran shut down the Fordo underground enrichment facility.

In return, the world powers suggested easing tough economic sanctions imposed on Iran in response to its nuclear programme.

Iran's economy has been squeezed, with oil revenue slashed, the currency nose-diving in value and unemployment growing.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    It was only when the whistle was blown on Iran's nuclear program(which otherwise would probably not have been exposed by Western intelligence) that it was discovered the Iranians had been constructing nuclear sites clandestinely for 16 years and never admitted it. And they don't know why the Western world is "suspicious" of their real intentions? And they STILL refuse to co-operate! Incredible!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.


    And what can you enlighten us about Israel's alleged nuclear programme? I'm sure for balance you will want to ensure the allegations about Israel are presented in the same way as you did about Iran and I'm sure the only reason you didn't there was because of the 400 character limit ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Exactly right! Similar to Sadam demanding payment for his oil in Euro,s under the "oil for food program", From that point on his fate was doomed.
    A precedent America could not afford to set.
    They manufactured a reason to invade, (WMD;S), gathered up a couple of sidekicks, and the rest is history!

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Well better we should negotiate a settlement than continue to be influenced by a rogue state over how to deal with it. That said, this along with NK is still no justification for cold war weapons like Trident......

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    We should probably focus our attendion on Derkaderkastan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Iran's goal is clear even if it's being far more clever about hiding it than NK is.It wants to be a nuclear weapons power. Its President says he wants to erase Israel from the map and a world without America. He has dreams of re-establishing a regional empire that his history tells him existed I the 9th century.Iran is as much a danger to the region and the world as it is to Israel and as NK is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.


    "That's the same propaganda, as the one which claims US armed Saddam Hussein"

    The propaganda may lie, fortunately 700+ "dual technology" export licences don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.


    Iran may not have the most peaceful history, but considering their democratically elected government was overthrown by the US in the 1950's, I could understand why they don't want anything to do with the West. The Us is the most warmongering nation on earth that lied to get into the Vietnam war resulting in the deaths of more than 2 million people. Yet you focus on Iran..

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    So just because the west has "double standards" does that mean that the tyrannical militant ayatollahs that run Iran should have atomic bombs?
    By the way China and Russia oppose Iran having the bomb. How come their double standards aren't used to excuse Iran? Pure anti-American jealousy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Diplomacy does not work, has not worked and more than likely will never work with any country developing nuclear technology, specifically NK and Iran. We all know what happens, they reach an agreement, we give them something and then they do an about turn.
    I don't want war - nobody want's to commit suicide or kill others. But unfortunately sometimes its the only answer :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Lots of people commenting here seem to be awfully keen on using military force to secure an outcome. I hope they are not just keyboard warriors and have already packed their kit bags, polished their weapons, written their farewell letters, and are prepared to sacrifice themselves and/ or their sons and daughters in the fight. What about it folks, which of you are actually soldiers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    45. powermeerkat.

    When was the last time Iran invaded ....well anyone. This is about the petrodollar and nothing else. Iran has started to bypass it and accept gold. If others follow suit the dollar will collapse.....wake up

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    The fact the fact that Islamist Iran as a nuclear weapon program, and that it lied about it for 17 years has been irrefutably established by United Nations' Internatonal Atomic Energy Agency.

    Whose inspectors have been repeatedly denied access to key Iranian nuclear facilities.

    Btw. Power reactors use uranium-235 enriched to 3-4%.

    There are no civilian uses for 20% enriched one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    How typical, whenever a subject like this comes up on these pages it immediately descends into a slanging match, those who blame all the worlds ills on the western democracies and would arm every rogue state with nuclear weapons and the idiots who scream for immediate bombing of whichever state is in the hot seat. It would be pleasant to have a reasoned discussion for a change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    No problems at all with Iranians every Iranian I have met has been sensible and reasonable, peaceful and have intelligence. I am certain they understand that it is in their best interests as it is in ours to get a deal done.War is a complete no no. As far as Am a dinnerjacket :) goes contrary to others he is very intelligent of course he wants his counties interests he exactly the same as Cameron.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Shouldn't we seek to disarm Pakistan India (because of of Pakistan) and Israel first?

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Not unlike when public servants agree a pensions deal with our marvellous government, any 'deal' agreed with Iran won't be worth the paper it is written on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Well within your rights to believe that.
    Me, i,ll stick to the money and minerals theory, everything else a side issue. Lots of precedent to support this, no evidence to Support the other, if you have the courage not to beleive it.
    New World Order anyone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    This discussion is being systematically hijacked. Please move up the cooments you like and grade down the comments against your opinion to counter the systematic hijacking of this thread.

    Please spare some seconds to make your voice count !

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    @15 There is a massive difference between a democratic, stable state having nuclear weapons and an unstable dictatorship that violates true human rights on a daily basis and shows constant aggression towards other nations and calls for the killing of an entire race of people. Although a world with no nukes would be preferable you must see the difference.


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