Iran Questions Western ‘Desire’ to End Atomic Dispute

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Global Security Newswire Staff
March 10, 2014, 6:38 a.m.

Ir­an’s top dip­lo­mat ques­tioned the ser­i­ous­ness of West­ern atom­ic ne­go­ti­at­ors after ex­tens­ive talks with a chief mul­ti­lat­er­al en­voy, the Wall Street Journ­al re­ports.

Ir­a­ni­an For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­hammad Javad Za­rif voiced skep­ti­cism about the de­term­in­a­tion of West­ern powers to peace­fully de­fuse a long­stand­ing nuc­le­ar dis­pute after he met with European Uni­on for­eign policy chief Cath­er­ine Ashton, who traveled to Tehran on be­half of the five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­ber na­tions and Ger­many. In ad­di­tion to speak­ing with Za­rif, Ashton on Sunday met in the Ir­a­ni­an cap­it­al with Pres­id­ent Has­san Rouh­ani, par­lia­ment speak­er Ali Lar­i­jani and Ali Ak­bar Velay­ati, a seni­or coun­selor to su­preme lead­er Ayatol­lah Ali Khame­nei.

The “P-5+1” powers are seek­ing a long-term deal to al­le­vi­ate glob­al sus­pi­cions that Ir­an is pur­su­ing a nuc­le­ar-arms cap­ab­il­ity through its atom­ic pro­gram, which Tehran in­sists is en­tirely peace­ful. The Middle East­ern na­tion, for its part, is seek­ing re­lief from in­ter­na­tion­al sanc­tions.

Za­rif said “it is up to the oth­er side [to] come to the ne­go­ti­at­ing table with a de­sire, de­cision and com­mit­ment to reach a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able agree­ment.”

The for­eign min­is­ter also voiced con­cerns over oth­er coun­tries’ com­pli­ance with a six-month atom­ic pact reached in Novem­ber as an ini­tial step to­ward a broad­er com­prom­ise. Tehran has taken is­sue with how the United States is fol­low­ing through on pledges to grant Ir­an ac­cess to pet­ro­leum pro­ceeds held over­seas, and with U.S. steps to tight­en ex­ist­ing sanc­tions.

“It is up to the oth­er party to show the same good­will and de­term­in­a­tion [as Ir­an],” Re­u­ters quoted Za­rif as say­ing. “With de­sire, com­mit­ment and will­ing­ness a com­pre­hens­ive deal can be reached … in four or five months.”

Ashton, though, said “there’s no guar­an­tee we’ll suc­ceed,” the Journ­al re­por­ted.

Her side has aired wor­ries about some con­di­tions Tehran has placed on the ne­go­ti­ations, in­clud­ing its re­fus­al to ad­dress Ir­a­ni­an mis­sile op­er­a­tions.

Ashton spokes­man Mi­chael Mann said West­ern gov­ern­ments hope “to ne­go­ti­ate quickly, but the most im­port­ant thing is that it’s a good agree­ment that every­one can live with,” the Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted.

“It’s im­port­ant to come [to Tehran] and see what scope there is for work­ing with Ir­an,” Mann ad­ded.

Ir­a­ni­an dip­lo­mats are sched­uled to meet next week with coun­ter­parts from China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia, the United King­dom and the United States.

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