Nuclear talks suspended, no framework agreement as deadline approaches

LAUSANNE, March 21 (PNA/Xinhua) — World powers and Iran will resume discussions next week to further negotiate Teheran’s nuclear issues as the current round of nuclear talks was suspended on Friday without reaching a framework agreement.

Iran state news agency IRNA quoted the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as saying the negotiations would resume on March 25, and foreign ministers from European countries and the United States would meet in Berlin on Saturday.

Araqchi’s remarks came after Iran and six powers suspended the nuclear negotiations Friday afternoon, without having reached a framework agreement ahead of the March 31 deadline.

He said the talks between Iran and world powers at this juncture were in need of more negotiations and coordination.

Since last Sunday, top U.S. and Iranian diplomats have held intensive bilateral meetings to bridge the gaps over Teheran’s nuclear issues. More delegations from other P5+1 countries (the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, plus Germany) joined the negotiations as from Wednesday.

However, delegates from P5+1 countries and Iran did not gather in a plenary session to address the focused technical and sanction issues.

Wang Qun, who led the Chinese negotiating team, told Xinhua that all sides had made progress during this crucial round of negotiations, but on the other hand, there were still gaps to be covered.

Wang said there were two categories of issues to resolve, one is how to assure Iran’s rights to peaceful use of nuclear energy, and the other is how to deal with the non-proliferation concern as it relates to the Iranian nuclear program.

He noted a lot of specific issues — like the numbers of centrifuges, the sanction lifting, for example — which were within the parameters of these two categories.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday said in a speech to celebrate the Iranian New Year, which begins this weekend, that nuclear talks between Iran and western powers had made progress but gaps remained.

“I believe that our nations have a historic opportunity to resolve this issue peacefully, an opportunity we should not miss,” Obama said, adding that the days and weeks ahead would be critical.

However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in his Twitter account that “Iranians have already made their choice, engage with dignity.”

The top Iran negotiator added it was high time for the United States and its allies to chose between pressure or agreement.

Kelsey Davenport, an expert with the U.S.-based think tank Arms Control Association, told Xinhua that before the next round negotiations reconvened next week, the P5+1 needed to consider what the options are when moving forward to insure that they are presenting Iran with a united position, allowing all sides to close the remaining gaps.

“All the sides face pressure domestically, they’re going to work hard to finish the deal by the March 31 deadline,” she added.(PNA/Xinhua)