Iran, world powers fail to reach Moscow breakthrough
Posted on: 20 Jun 2012
Moscow:Iran and world powers today failed to narrow differences over the Iranian nuclear drive after bruising talks in Moscow held amid threats of a crippling oil embargo or even military action against Tehran. However the Iranian negotiating team and the world powers led by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton succeeded in keeping talks alive by agreeing a process for future meetings. The United States and Israel have repeatedly refused to rule out air strikes on Iran against its nuclear programme, which the West suspects is cover for a bid for nuclear weapons, and the Moscow meeting was seen as a crucial last test for the viability of talks.
'It remains clear that there are significant gaps between the substance of the two positions,' Ashton told reporters in a late night news conference after nine hours of final day talks. There had been 'tough and frank' exchanges with the delegation led by chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, said Ashton, who represented the world powers known as 'P5+1' -- permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany. Ashton said the world powers reaffirmed their demands for Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20-percent purity, ship out the existing stock of such material, and shut down its heavily-fortified Fordo enrichment facility.
'The choice is Iran's,' she said. '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.'
Uranium enrichment is at the centre of the decade-long Iranian nuclear crisis as the process can be used both to make
nuclear fuel but also to make highly-enriched uranium for the explosive core of an atomic bomb.