AFP: World powers stuck firmly to their demands on Iran during two tough days of talks in Moscow, refusing to budge on Tehran’s attempt to have various sanctions lifted, a senior US official said Tuesday.
MOSCOW (AFP)— World powers stuck firmly to their demands on Iran during two tough days of talks in Moscow, refusing to budge on Tehran’s attempt to have various sanctions lifted, a senior US official said Tuesday.
“There is no softening of our position, no softening of sanctions,” the senior US administration official said after the second and last day of talks between six world powers and Iran concluded without a breakthrough.
The official described talks in which the West held firmly to its demands while discussing “confidence-building measures that would move the clock to the right to create time” for a broader deal at a later date.
“We kept faith entirely with the proposals we had put on the table,” said the official in reference to an offer laid out in Baghdad last month.
That deal would require Iran to halt 20-percent enrichment, ship out its stock of such material and shut down its fortified bunker facility at Fordo in exchange for some forms of economic assistance and spare airplane parts.
Iran has rejected the offer as far too insufficient, and the two sides only agreed in Moscow to hold an expert-level meeting in Istanbul on July 3, to be followed by more senior contacts at later unspecified dates.
The US official said that in this third round of negotiations, “Iran probably for the first time in many years responded quite directly to every element of the proposal we put down in Baghdad,” the US official said.
But response did not necessarily mean agreement, the US official cautioned.
Iran in particular defended its right to enrich at Fordo, calling the demand to shut down the mountainside facility near the holy city of Qom unreasonable, the senior official said.
“I don’t think the differences have narrowed,” said the official.
“I think what is correct to interpret is that Iran has a choice to make. They have provided a lot of information — as have we — and they need to reflect on the choice they make.”
All negotiations are difficult once they reach argument over specific issues, with the decision to extend the negotiating process with lower-lever meeting meaning that actual work may now get done, the US official said.
“There is no question that we have begun to tack critical issues but it means equally that there are quite significant gaps between the substance,” the US administration official said.