GENEVA –– The United States described two days of nuclear negotiations with Iran as the most serious and candid to date, after Western diplomats said Tehran hinted it was ready to scale back sensitive atomic activities to secure urgent sanctions relief.
But a senior United States administration official told reporters after the conclusion of negotiations between Iran and six world powers that no breakthroughs had been achieved and many disagreements remained. Other Western diplomats involved in the talks said there had been no apparent narrowing of differences between Tehran and the six nations over its nuclear ambitions.
“I’ve been doing this now for about two years,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “And I have never had such intense, detailed, straightforward, candid conversations with the Iranian delegation before.” White House spokesman Jay Carney echoed the remarks, saying Iran’s proposal showed “a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before”. But he cautioned that “no one should expect a breakthrough overnight”. Washington’s ally Israel, which has told the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China –– the six nations negotiating with Iran –– not to trust Tehran, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to speak next week with US Secretary of State John Kerry about the Geneva talks and sanctions should not be eased until Iran proves it is dismantling its programme. Netanyahu on October 1 told the United Nations General Assembly that Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani, widely seen as a pragmatist and centrist, was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and that Israel was ready to act alone to keep Tehran from getting nuclear weapons. Follow-up talks between the six powers and Iran will be held in Geneva on November 7 and 8. (Reuters)