Iran Talks Fail, No New Date Set

Talks meant to nudge Iran toward heeding U.N. Security Council demands to stop uranium enrichment collapsed Saturday, with Tehran shrugging off calls by six world powers to cease the activity that could be harnessed to make nuclear arms.

(AP)

Iran's Chief Nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili salutes as he leaves Ottoman-era Sultan Ahmed Mosque after he attended Friday prayers there following the for round of talks between Iran and world powers on Iran's nuclear program at the historical Ciragan Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, Jan. 21, 2011. Iran and six world powers sought common ground Friday at talks jeopardized by Tehran's refusal to discuss demands for curbs on nuclear activities that could enable it manufacture the fissile core of nuclear warheads. As the two sides broke for lunch, with the Iranians dining separately, there was no sign of movement from either side from widely differing positions revealed after a first round of talks in Geneva last month.

ISTANBUL — Talks meant to nudge Iran toward heeding U.N. Security Council demands to stop uranium enrichment collapsed Saturday, with Tehran shrugging off calls by six world powers to cease the activity that could be harnessed to make nuclear arms.

Announcing the failure of two days of negotiations, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said no new date for another meeting had been set. She blamed what the six consider unrealistic demands by Iran — an end to U.N. sanctions and agreement that Iran could continue to enrich — for the disappointing results.

Iran's ambassador to the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, speaks at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. Ali Asghar Soltanieh says the Istanbul talks are a "window for an honorable path for the West to get out of the present impasse."

Proposals by the six for improved U.N. monitoring of Iran's nuclear activities were rejected by Tehran, as were attempts to kickstart dialogue through reviving a subset of international talks focusing on Iran shipping out a limited amount of its enriched uranium in exchange for fuel for its research reactor, Ashton said.

"We had hoped to have a detailed and constructive discussion of those ideas," she said. "But it became clear that the Iranian side was not ready for this unless we agree to preconditions related to enrichment and sanctions.

"Both these preconditions are not the way to proceed," she told reporters.

While no new talks were planned, Ashton said "our proposals remain on the table.

European Union (EU) foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton (2nd R) arrives for a news conference to conclude two days of talks between Iran and six world powers in Istanbul January 22, 2011. Six world powers were "disappointed" with the stance taken by Iran during nuclear talks in Istanbul, and its preconditions were unacceptable, Ashton said on Saturday. Addressing a news conference at the end of the two days of talks, Ashton said there were no further meetings planned at present, but the door remained open for Iran.

"Our door remains open. Our telephone lines remain open.

"The process can go forward if Iran chooses to respond positively," she said. "We will now wait to see whether they do."

Tehran denies that it wants nuclear arms, insisting it wants only to make peaceful nuclear energy for its rising population. But concerns have grown — because its uranium enrichment program could also make fissile warhead material, because of its nuclear secrecy and also because the Islamic Republic refuses to cooperate with U.N. attempts to investigate suspicions that it ran experiments related to making nuclear weapons.

While the six went into the first day of talks Friday formally focused at freezing Iran's uranium enrichment program, Tehran has repeatedly said this activity is not up for discussion. Instead, Iranian officials came to the table with an agenda that covered just about everything except its nuclear program: global disarmament, Israel's suspected nuclear arsenal, and Tehran's concerns about U.S. military bases in Iraq and elsewhere.

As talks resumed Saturday, Iranian delegate Abolfazl Zohrevand said the atmosphere was "positive."

"Both sides showed the willingness that a solution can be achieved to reach active cooperation on various issues," he told AP Television News.

European Union (EU) foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton speaks during a news conference to conclude two days of talks between Iran and six world powers in Istanbul January 22, 2011. Six world powers were "disappointed" with the stance taken by Iran during nuclear talks in Istanbul, and its preconditions were unacceptable, Ashton said on Saturday. Addressing a news conference at the end of the two days of talks, Ashton said there were no further meetings planned at present, but the door remained open for Iran.

But diplomats from two other delegations familiar with the negotiations were less bullish with one suggesting shortly before the end of the meeting that the talks were in trouble because Iran was sticking to its demands on the lifting of sanctions and acceptance of Iran's enrichment activities.