February 20, 2011 By

Iran Nuclear Deal: Talks Prove Elusive

b_3Iran’s significant nuclear deal with the P5+1 world powers, the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, reached nowhere after hours of intense discussions and negotiations late into Saturday night. The talks, between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and P5+1 chief negotiator Catherine Ashton, are aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program in return for limited sanctions relief including unlocking several billion dollars in oil revenues and easing some trade restrictions.

U.S State Secretary, John Kerry and other P5+1 foreign ministers also arrived late Friday and on Saturday raising hopes of attaining a diplomatic solution with Kerry going into a three way meeting with Ashton and Zarif for the second time late on Saturday. Eyes are also on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani whose persistent diplomatic approach which failed could lead to more painful sanctions.

If the talks fail and there is no deal agreed upon, the standoff between Iran and the world leaders could enter a potentially dangerous phase. The P5+1 powers want Iran to stop enriching uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent, close to weapons-grade, but while allowing it to continue enrichment to lower levels. That would be a step back from successive UN Security Council resolutions that have called for Iran to halt all uranium enrichment. It also wants Tehran to stop construction of a new reactor at Arak and to grant the International Atomic Energy Agency more intrusive inspection rights.

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