Iran nuclear talks stall in ′tense and tough exchange′ | News | DW | 18.06.2012
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Iran nuclear talks stall in 'tense and tough exchange'

International talks in Moscow on Iran's nuclear program have stalled. Both sides have so far refused to soften their positions in order to reach a compromise solution.

Negotiations in Moscow between six world powers and Iran over the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program stalled on Monday, with both sides refusing to come to a compromise on their respective positions.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, the UK and US - and Germany are trying to force Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program. The talks in Moscow are the third round this year, coming after fruitless negotiations in Istanbul and Baghdad.

"We had an intense and tough exchange views," said Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the six power group.

Tehran has enriched uranium to 20 percent purity, a level higher than needed for power generation and considered a short technical step away from weapons-grade material. The EU and the US accuse Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb, while the Iranians claim they need the higher enriched uranium to produce isotopes for medical research.

Iranhas said that progress would only be made in Moscow if the six powers recognized Tehran's right to peaceful nuclear power. The Islamic Republic also called for immediate relief from international sanctions before making any agreement on uranium enrichment.

The US has implemented an oil embargo against the Iran, which has reduced the Mideast nation's petroleum production by 40 percent, according to the International Energy Agency. An EU oil embargo is scheduled go to into effect on July 1st, further isolating Iran economically.

'No adjustments'

During May talks in Baghdad, the six power group offered Iran technical assistance for nuclear safety and to help repair the country's ageing aircraft fleet. The six powers say they have have refused to put anything else on the table.

"In terms of adjustments, no,” said Mann. “What is on the table was put on the table in Baghdad.”

Israelhas indirectly threatened to launch airstrikes against Iran if negotiations fail to stop the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. The Jewish state's deputy prime minister, Moshe Yaalon, said on Sunday that military action was preferable to an Iranian nuclear weapon.

"Should that be the choice, then bombing [Iran] is preferable to a bomb [in Iran's hands]," Yaalon said. "I hope we do not face that dilemma."

With international tensions already high over escalating violence in Syria, an attack on Iran could trigger a broader conflagration in the Middle East. That in turn could hurt a global economy already fragile over the eurozone debt crisis.

The talks in Moscow are expected to continue through Wednesday.

slk/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)