Iran nuclear talks: No deal this time (UPDATE)


Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures next to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton during a meeting on the third day of talks on Iran's nuclear program on November 9, 2013 in Geneva.


Jean-Christophe Bott

UPDATE: No deal was reached between six world powers and Tehran on Saturday, meaning that talks will have to recommence on November 20th in Geneva at the political director's level. 

Despite the lack of a consensus, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the talks "not only narrowed the differences ... but we made significant progress," according to CBS News. ‘‘We’re grateful to the French for the work we did together,’’ Kerry added. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will attend the next round of talks as well as top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton, but the other nations will be represented in this round by senior civil servants, instead of foreign ministers. 

Here's a brief Reuters video on the results:


As diplomats left Geneva's Intercontinental hotel on Saturday for the third day of talks over Iran's nuclear ambitions, hopes remained high for a deal.

Britain's foreign minister William Hague, talking to reporters outside the hotel, said that the negotiators had made "good progress."

However, as the day wore on, difficulties arose as some countries believed that the proposed deal did not go far enough to curb an Iranian nuclear program.

Negotiations led by the European Union's foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, lasted into the evening.

Diplomats from the so-called P5 + 1 (US, Russia, the UK, France, China, Germany) have been largely silent about the details of the talks. There has been a guarded optimism that has hung over the first meetings between Iran and the great powers since the election of the more moderate Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani.

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"If everyone tries their best we may have one," Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's Foreign Minister, told reporters on Saturday.

"There was a possibility, and perhaps it still exists, that if there are good intentions we can reach an agreed-upon text," he added

A Twitter account Iran experts believe is run by the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated criticism of France on Sunday after Paris expressed reservations about a proposed deal to end a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

The authenticity of the Twitter account could not be independently verified. 

On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, speaking to his country's conservative parliament, said his negotiators had told western representatives in Geneva that "We will not answer to any threat, sanction, humiliation or discrimination."

"The Islamic Republic has not and will not bow its head to threats from any authority," Rouhani added. "For us there are red lines that cannot be crossed. National interests are our red lines that include our rights under the framework of international regulations and (uranium) enrichment in Iran."

A few details of the possible deal include: stopping enrichment of nuclear fuel to 20 percent purity, discarding most of its existing stockpile, halting the usage of IR-2 centrifuges, which enrich uranium five times faster than older centrifuges, and maintaining a stoppage of the Arak reactor.

In exchange, the West would ease or eliminate sanctions that have been imposed over the last decade.

John Kerry cut short a trip to the Middle East on Thursday to fly to Geneva and participate directly in the talks.

Kerry has tried to temper expectations about how fast an agreement could be reached. If negotiations fail, diplomats may have to recommence talks later this month.

Israel has been particularly critical of the proposed deal, insisting that it didn't go far enough.

Before the deal had been struck Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "[Iran] paid nothing because they are not reducing in any way their nuclear enrichment capability. So Iran got the deal of the century and the international community got a bad deal."

Israel, the US and France believe that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran has continued to insist it is developing nuclear power for peaceful means.