Iran nuke programme talks fail

2013-11-10 08:42
Secretary of State John Kerry.

Secretary of State John Kerry. (AFP)

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Geneva - Talks on curbing Iran's nuclear programme ended with no deal early on Sunday after France objected that proposed measures didn't go far enough. US Secretary of State John Kerry said "significant progress" had been made on the remaining differences.

Six world powers and Iran agreed to resume talks on 20 November.

Both sides badly wanted agreement. The US and its five partners were looking for initial caps on Iran's ability to make an atomic bomb, while Tehran sought some easing of sanctions stifling its economy.

But France would not soften its concerns over Iran's plutonium project and the level of its uranium enrichment programme.

Kerry, speaking to reporters after the talks broke up, acknowledged there were "certain issues that we needed to work through."

"We're grateful to the French for the work we did together," Kerry said.

The talks showed the enormous complexity facing negotiators after a generation of mistrust between Iran and the West since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Any agreement would be a breakthrough after nearly a decade of mostly inconclusive discussions.

Still, Kerry's talks in Geneva were the longest high-level negotiations between Iran and the United States in decades - a sign of the improved atmosphere between the two countries since moderate President Hassan Rouhani took office in August.

As the talks foundered after initial signs of progress, Kerry rushed to Geneva on Friday, followed by counterparts from Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, to try to push through an agreement.

That failed, with disputes between the two sides complicated by rare open dissent within the six powers. France rejected a joint list of demands on Iran, saying they were too generous to result in sanctions relief.

After the talks ended, top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton spoke of "a lot of concrete progress" but also of "some differences."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he hoped those disagreements will be resolved at a future meeting.

Read more on:    iran  |  iran nuclear programme

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