Iran, EU talks end without nuclear pact

Further negotiations could take place before U.N. council considers sanctions

March 04, 2006|By ALISSA J. RUBIN | ALISSA J. RUBIN,LOS ANGELES TIMES

VIENNA, Austria -- Talks between Iran and key European ministers ended yesterday without a deal to limit Tehran's nuclear ambitions, though both sides left open the possibility of further negotiations before the issue is taken up by the U.N. Security Council in less than two weeks.

The council is expected to consider action against Iran soon after the International Atomic Energy Agency meets here next week to review the Iranians' efforts to acquire nuclear enrichment technology.

Despite the apparent failure of yesterday's talks, there were reports that a deal might be reached under which Iran would agree to a moratorium on much of its enrichment work but could continue very limited research. Although the European Union and the Bush administration strongly oppose such an arrangement, the idea keeps surfacing, and several Vienna-based diplomats who have spoken with the Iranians believe that is the best deal that the West will get.

Uranium enriched to a low level can be used in civilian nuclear reactors to produce electricity. However, with some adjustment, the same technology can be used to produce highly enriched uranium for possible use in nuclear weapons.

Because of uncertainties about Iran's intentions, the IAEA's board voted last month to report the Persian Gulf nation to the Security Council for its failure to resume a moratorium on enrichment and to answer questions from weapons inspectors. But in an effort to halt or slow action by the Security Council, Iran held recent talks with Russian officials and met yesterday with the European Union negotiators.

After yesterday's meeting, which was held in the elegant Vienna home of the German ambassador, the EU representatives said they remained skeptical of anything less than Iran's complete cessation of uranium enrichment. The Iranians agreed in 2004 to suspend such activities but ended that moratorium in January.

"In order to rebuild trust, it is necessary to return to a complete suspension of uranium enrichment-related activities, including those related to research and development," said French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, speaking to reporters after the two-hour meeting between the EU and Ali Larijani, the Iranian negotiator.

"The key to any solution is trust. It is a simple, legitimate condition, which does not adversely affect Iran's development. And on this point, unfortunately, we were unable to get an agreement with Mr. Larijani," said Douste-Blazy.

However, in Russia, diplomats refused to rule out chances for a deal.

"I would not state that time is running out. Let's give them a chance," said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Alissa J. Rubin writes for the Los Angeles Times.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.