MOSCOW (AP) — Iran and six world powers are suspending high-level talks meant to dispel suspicions that Tehran might turn its nuclear activities into making weapons, the EU’s foreign policy chief said Tuesday. The announcement followed two days of intensive meetings that failed to bridge differences.
Catherine Ashton said future meetings on a senior level were possible. But she told reporters that both sides needed to first stage lower-level talks to see if there was any way to break the deadlock that has marked a series of negotiations since April.
The end of talks on the senior level is sure to be seen by critics as a sign of failure on the diplomatic track aimed at persuading Tehran to curb uranium enrichment, a process that can make both reactor fuel and the core of nuclear warheads.
Israel says Iran is stretching out the talks to further advance its nuclear prowess and has threatened to attack the Islamic Republic as a last resort. It may argue that the negotiations are turning into “talks about talks” — something the US and its allies have vowed they will not tolerate.
But Ashton, who convened the talks between Iran and the six powers, defended the decision to kick contacts down to a lower level as “the right way to go forward” and suggested Iran’s actions would determine whether negotiations between top officials resume.
“We expect Iran to decide whether it is willing to make diplomacy work, to focus on reaching agreement on concrete confidence-building steps, and to address the concerns of the international community,” she said in a statement.
Ashton further said experts will meet on a technical level July 4 in Istanbul.
After participants report back, senior officials for both sides will discuss the results, Ashton said. Then, she and top Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili will determine if there is enough common ground to resume the high-level talks.
Iran denies nuclear weapons ambitions, insisting its atomic activities are geared only toward producing reactor fuel and making medical isotopes. It wants international sanctions lifted before it considers curbing its uranium enrichment activities, which is producing material to a level just steps away from weapons-grade material.
Meeting Iran in Moscow were the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
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