Russia Fears Iran Nuclear-Talks Progress Not Irreversible

Russia is concerned that recent progress in talks over Iran’s disputed nuclear program isn’t “irreversible,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

“There is real progress, but it isn’t sufficient to talk about an irreversible trend,” Ryabkov, Russia’s chief negotiator at the Iran talks, told reporters in Moscow today.

Iran sees for the first time the “possibility for a breakthrough” in negotiations next month over its atomic program, the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, said in a March 18 interview.

President Barack Obama, who is visiting Israel, has supported giving more time for economic sanctions to persuade Iran to make nuclear concessions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said a military strike may be the only way to stop Iran from producing an atomic bomb that could threaten his country.

At a two-day meeting last month in Kazakhstan, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia proposed easing sanctions on Iran’s petrochemicals and gold trade in exchange for Iran ceasing production of medium-enriched uranium, according to officials involved in the talks. Those discussions marked a “turning point” where the so-called P5+1 seemed “more realistic” about Iran’s bottom-line position that it has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful use, Khazaee said.

Technical experts from Iran and the P5+1 held talks in Istanbul on March 18 to discuss details of the plan. A Western diplomat, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, said on March 19 the Istanbul technical discussions were genuine and businesslike.

Talks among senior political representatives are to resume April 5 in Almaty, the commercial capital of Kazakhstan.

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