Reuters: Negotiations between Iran and the European Union on the Iranian nuclear programme are more difficult than ever and the chances of averting a breakdown are only 50-50, a senior Iranian negotiator said on Tuesday. The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany and EU foreign
policy chief Javier Solana will meet top Iranian negotiator … Reuters
By Parisa Hafezi
BRUSSELS – Negotiations between Iran and the European Union on the Iranian nuclear programme are more difficult than ever and the chances of averting a breakdown are only 50-50, a senior Iranian negotiator said on Tuesday.
The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will meet top Iranian negotiator Hassan Rohani in Geneva on Wednesday to try to rescue the talks, with Iran threatening to resume suspended uranium processing which the West says could help it develop a bomb.
“Our chance for success in tomorrow’s meeting is 50-50. I think these talks were more difficult and complicated than ever. There is no guarantee for reaching an agreement,” Hossein Mousavian, one of the Iranian negotiators and member of Supreme National Security Council, told reporters after preparatory talks with European officials in Brussels.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi issued a veiled threat to break off the talks if Iran did not get a satisfactory reply from the Europeans.
“Tomorrow’s session could bring an end to the extensive talks we have had with the Europeans if they don’t have a clear proposal,” Asefi told Tehran radio.
“Or they can be a turning point in relations and cooperation between Iran and Europe. There’s no possibility but these two options. Working with Europe cannot continue under ambiguity.”
The European officials made no comment after the two-and-a-half hour preparatory meeting.
Iran faces mounting global pressure not to resume frozen work that could help it achieve a military nuclear capability.
At stake is the future of a European diplomatic initiative offering the Islamic Republic political and economic incentives if it abandons a uranium enrichment programme which it denies is intended to make nuclear weapons.
Iran, which says it will never give up its legal right to enrichment, has accused the EU of stalling and vowed to resume the conversion of uranium to gas, a precursor step to producing enriched nuclear fuel, in the near future.
The Europeans have warned any resumption of suspended activity would breach their agreement, and they would seek an emergency meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog to refer Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
Iran has so far held off from notifying the International Atomic Energy Agency of its intention to resume work at its Isfahan uranium conversion plan, but Iranian officials insist the decision has been taken and it is just a matter of time.
The political directors of the so-called EU3 countries met U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns just before Tuesday’s talks.
The United States, which accuses Tehran of secretly working to build a bomb, has cautiously backed the EU initiative but warned that Iran must be hauled before the U.N. Security Council if it resumes any enrichment-related activity.
(Additional reporting by Paul Hughes in Tehran)