Wed, Nov 13, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Iranian minister blames West for failed nuke talks

Reuters, DUBAI

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif hit back at US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday and blamed divisions between Western powers for the failure of talks on Tehran’s nuclear program in Geneva on Saturday.

Responding to remarks made by Kerry in Abu Dhabi on Monday, Zarif said that blaming Iran only served to undermine confidence in the negotiations, the next round of which is set for Nov. 20.

The US, the EU and Iran worked together for months on a proposal to help end the 10-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, diplomats said, but talks in the Swiss city between Tehran and six world powers to agree on a deal ended without agreement.

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius said Paris could not accept a “fool’s game” — in other words, a weak deal with Iran.

Diplomats from other Western nations at first reacted angrily and accused France of trying to upstage the other powers and causing unnecessary trouble for the talks.

However, Kerry on Monday said the major powers were “unified on Saturday when we presented a proposal to the Iranians and the French signed off on it, we signed off on it, and everybody agreed it was a fair proposal. There was unity, but Iran couldn’t take it at that particular moment, they weren’t able to accept that particular thing.”

Zarif denied that the Iranian side was to blame.

“Mr Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of US draft on Thursday night? and publicly commented against it Friday morning?” Zarif asked on Twitter.

“No amount of spinning can change what happened within 5+1 in Geneva from 6PM Thursday to 545 PM Saturday. But it can further erode confidence,” he tweeted. “We are committed to constructive engagement. Interaction on equal footing key to achieve shared objectives.”

Western nations are determined to stop Iran from being able to make nuclear weapons, and the US and Israel have repeatedly said that all options — a reference to possible military strikes — are on the table to achieve that aim.

Iran says its uranium enrichment program is entirely peaceful and insists that it has the right enrich uranium for civilian power plants and medical research.

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