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Nuclear talks with US end without deal in Qatar, claims Iranian report

Semiofficial news agency describes negotiations as finished with ‘no effect’ on ending deadlock; no comment from either Washington or EU moderators

Illustrative: Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, June 23, 2022. (AP/Vahid Salemi)
Illustrative: Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, June 23, 2022. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Indirect negotiations between Iran and the US over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers have ended without breaking a deadlock over the talks, a semiofficial Iranian news agency reported on Wednesday.

The US State Department and the European Union, which is mediating the talks in Qatar, did not immediately acknowledge the end of the negotiations in Doha.

However, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guard, described the negotiations as finished and having “no effect on breaking the deadlock in the talks.”

US Special Representative Rob Malley spoke to the Iranians through EU official Enrique Mora during the talks. Mora then took messages to Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani.

Tasnim claimed that the American position did not include “a guarantee for Iran benefiting economically from the deal,” quoting what it described as unnamed “informed sources.”

“Washington is seeking to revive the [deal] in order to limit Iran without economic achievement for our country,” the Tasnim report claimed.

In this photo released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Enrique Mora, a leading European Union diplomat, second right, attends a meeting with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, third left, in Tehran, Iran, March 27, 2022. (Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP)

Iran and world powers agreed in 2015 to the nuclear deal, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, US then-president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.

Talks in Vienna about reviving the deal have been on a “pause” since March. Since the deal’s collapse, Iran has been publicly running advanced centrifuges and rapidly growing stockpiles of enriched uranium.

Even as negotiators convened in Doha, Iran’s nuclear chief on Tuesday confirmed that Iran had begun installing a new cascade of advanced centrifuges at its underground Fordo facility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency earlier reported that Iran was planning to enrich uranium through a new chain of 166 advanced IR-6 centrifuges at the site. A cascade is a group of centrifuges working together to more quickly enrich uranium.

This Dec. 11, 2020, satellite photo by Maxar Technologies shows construction at Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility. Iran has begun construction on a site at its underground nuclear facility at Fordo amid tensions with the US over its atomic program (Maxar Technologies via AP)

Earlier this month, Iran removed 27 surveillance cameras of the IAEA to pressure the West toward making a deal. The IAEA’s director-general warned it could deal a “fatal blow” to the accord as Tehran enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.

Nonproliferation experts warn Iran has enriched enough up to 60% purity — a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90% — to make one nuclear weapon, should it decide to do so.

Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes, though UN experts and Western intelligence agencies say Iran had an organized military nuclear program through 2003.

Building a nuclear bomb would still take Iran more time if it pursued a weapon, analysts say, though they warn Tehran’s advances make the program more dangerous. Israel has threatened in the past that it would carry out a preemptive strike to stop Iran — and already is suspected in a series of recent killings targeting Iranian officials.

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