The latest diplomatic talks between Iran and six world powers regarding Iran’s nuclear program have ended without an agreement. In an interview with Iranian news media, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, announced that “there was no tangible progress in this round of the talks.” He commented that the differences between the parties were too large to begin drafting an accord, but that the talks would continue next month.
Iranian and American officials say that there are serious gaps between the two sides on several basic issues, including on the nuclear enrichment capability Iran would be permitted to retain. A senior American official speaking on the condition of anonymity said that Iran needed to be more realistic. The official said, “Iran still has to make some hard choices. We are concerned that progress is not being made and that time is short.” Iranian officials went on the record saying that “the West has to abandon its excessive demands,” and that “we had expected the Western side to become more realistic, but this doesn’t appear to be the case yet.”
The United Nations Security Council members, plus Germany, want a deal that would ensure Iran’s enrichment capability is constrained enough that it could not quickly produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb. This would include tough limitations on enrichment and intensive inspections at facilities across the country. The six powers also want severe restrictions on the number and type of centrifuges Iran can possess. Iran wants economic sanctions against it lifted and recognition of the ability to continue to enrich uranium for medicine and electricity.
Progress before the end of this latest round of nuclear talks was slow and difficult. Both sides claim that they want to reach a deal, so negotiations are expected to intensify as the July 20 deadline to resolve their differences approaches. Senior Western diplomats have said that they are doubtful that an agreement will be reached by the deadline, but neither side wants a breakdown in negotiations because a failure of the talks might lead to a military strike on Iran by Israel or the United States.