Washington May 24 - International talks on Iran’s nuclear program ended today with no evident progress, although a new meeting is scheduled for next month in Moscow.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said that “significant differences remain” in negotiations between Iran and the six major powers that constitute the P5+1: Russia, China, France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.
“The E3+3 remain firm, clear and united in seeking a swift diplomatic resolution of the international community's concerns on the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program,” she said after talks concluded. “We expect Iran to take concrete and practical steps to urgently meet the concerns of the international community, to build confidence and to meet its international obligations.”
Top Israeli officials have argued that Iran is merely continuing a pattern of stalling as it continues the enrichment process.
"Iran is trying to gain time through talks with the West, and has no intention of halting its nuclear program," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on May 9, while Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said that Iran’s strategy could allow a nuclear weapon to built in as little as 60 days.
The main issue at the negotiations was Iran’s enrichment of uranium to the 20 percent purity level, which signifies a technical ability to enrich to the military-ready 90 percent level. Yet the two-day meeting in Baghdad began with Iran’s insistence that rounds of punishing international sanctions be lifted as a pre-condition to any halt in enriching uranium that could be used for a nuclear weapon.
“Iran underlined that the talks with the six world powers in Baghdad should result in a removal of the western sanctions, stressing that the West's embargos have no legal basis,” the Iranian FARS news agency reported.
While details of the talks remain secret, CNN reported that Iran rejected the idea of completely stopping its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations. Highly enriched uranium is used to make nuclear bombs.
The meeting in Moscow will take place on June 18 and 19, 2012.