Iran nuclear talks raise hope

ABU DHABI: It is encouraging that the talks between Iran and the P5+1 (US, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany) are going so well, a UAE newspaper has said.

Commenting on the talks, the English language daily ‘Gulf News’ said today that Catherine Ashton, the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Chief, and Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister, described their talks this week as “useful and substantive”.

“It is good that the Israeli and right-wing American anti-Iranian lobbies have not succeeded in derailing the talks despite there being a mass of technical details, all of which could easily become sticking points if either side wanted to be obstructive. In addition, the international community has the challenge of dealing with an Iranian nuclear establishment that has been conditioned to hate the outside world and is not remotely familiar with the concept of operating transparently,” the paper added.

The talks began on January 20 and are due to finish by July 20. They are seeking to define the terms of a permanent agreement intended to ensure that Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon and ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme is strictly peaceful. The discussions have reached a very complicated stage and this week’s work touched on Iran’s enrichment programme, the heavy water reactor at Arak and the Fordow enrichment facility. It is important that negotiators keep their focus on how to achieve an agreement such as one that allows very low levels of enrichment for civilian purposes and that includes a strict verification programme, rather than give way to nationalistic rhetoric.

The paper noted that Ukraine has flung a totally new problem into the talks.

“When the P5+1 started work a year ago, it would have been hard to predict that the situation in Crimea might affect the Iranian nuclear programme. So far, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not linked the Russian reaction to any US and EU sanctions over Crimea to Russia’s continued support of the P5+1 talks.” “That is fortunate and it is important that Russia continues to be part of the consensus over normalising Iran’s situation and does not make it subsidiary to any reaction to the growing global fury over Russia’ annexation of Crimea,” it concluded.