Iran looks ahead to talks with UN envoy

With a first round of nuclear negotiations with world powers ending without agreement, Iranian officials looked ahead last night to parallel talks with the UN’s nuclear chief amid reminders that concessions by Tehran have limits.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani

The overall message from Iran closely mirrored the work-in-progress tone of US secretary of state John Kerry and other powerful envoys, who failed to seal a first-step accord during overtime talks in Geneva and but then quickly agreed to try again next week.

The administration of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is emphasising that the talks are a work in progress.

The framework for a possible deal could see an easing of US-led economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s highest levels on uranium enrichment.

Among the complications ahead, is addressing French concerns that the proposed limits on Iran’s ability to make nuclear fuel don’t go far enough and alarm over a planned heavy water reactor that produces greater amounts of byproduct plutonium, which can be used in nuclear arms production.

Iran insists that it rejects nuclear arms and only wants reactors of energy and medical applications.

Rouhani said progress was made during “serious” talks in Geneva with the six-nation group, the permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany.

But he repeated that Iran cannot be pushed to fully give up uranium enrichment — a comment that appears aimed at opponents of his nuclear dialogue with the West.

In related talks, UN nuclear chief Yukiya Amano headed to Tehran yesterday for meetings on the practical aspects of expanding international monitoring and gaining greater access to

nuclear sites. Attempts have been stymied for nearly two years of arguments over what can be seen and who can be interviewed by UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency experts.

‘No rush’

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was good world powers failed to clinch a deal with Iran, and that he had lobbied against easing sanctions, saying: “What’s the rush?”

However, he said he recognised there was still “a strong desire” to reach an accord with Iran and pledged to prevent “a bad agreement” — a position that could cause more friction with Israel’s main ally, the US.

He said he had spoken over the weekend with leaders from the US, Britain, France, Russia, and Germany.

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