Washington and Tehran were upbeat after Iran agreed to hold fresh nuclear talks with world powers next month and made a “breakthrough” proposal to allow spot checks on its nuclear sites.
After two days of talks in Geneva, Switzerland, Iran on Wednesday said it was hopeful for a “new phase in our relations” with the international community, while the White House said Iran had shown a greater level of “seriousness and substance” than ever before.
Germany was also positive, saying the latest talks had boosted hopes for a diplomatic solution, but a wary Russia warned there was “no reason to break into applause.”
Iran’s archrival Israel — the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power — insisted Tehran should be judged by its actions. EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton told reporters the next meeting would convene in the Swiss city on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.
She read from what she underlined was an unprecedented joint statement agreed with Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif and herself as chair of the international negotiating team.
The EU is at the helm of the so-called P5+1 group — comprised of Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, plus Germany — which has spent years trying to reach a deal with Iran amid fears that it is developing nuclear weapons.
The Islamic republic vehemently denies that and insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The statement said the Geneva talks were “substantive and forward-looking,” calling Iran’s plan a “proposed basis for negotiation.”
The talks were the first between all parties’ nuclear negotiators since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seen as a relative moderate, succeeded conservative former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August.
They ended a six-month freeze over Iran’s refusal to curb uranium enrichment in exchange for easing the international sanctions battering its economy.
Amid signs of a thaw with the international community, Rouhani has pledged transparency on the nuclear program and engagement with major powers to try to remove the sanctions.
“We hope that this a beginning of a new phase in our relations,” Zarif told reporters.
While the details remain under wraps, lead Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said its proposal involved “proportionate and reciprocal steps by both sides.”
After Iran’s team gave an hour-long presentation on Tuesday in English — a first in the nuclear talks — Araqchi said the proposal had the “capacity to make a breakthrough.”
Iran’s plan contains three steps that could settle the nuclear dispute “within a year,” Araqchi has said, the first of which is achievable “within a month or two, or even less.”
He said that snap inspections of Iran’s atomic facilities were part of the last step.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Iran’s presentation at the talks was “useful,” showing a “level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before.”
However, US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki cautioned that “a great deal more work that needs to be done.”
Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov was less than upbeat, saying the sides lacked mutual trust.
Iran has already drawn red lines, saying it will not accept demands to suspend uranium enrichment or ship purified material abroad.
Israeli Minister of International Relations Yuval Steinitz on Wednesday said Jerusalem was watching the talks “with hope and with concern.”
“We see the worrying signs and we don’t want Geneva 2013 to turn into Munich 1938,” he said on Israeli Army radio, referring to Britain and France’s failed bid to avert war by agreeing to Nazi Germany’s annexation of swathes of Czechoslovakia.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and