Iran Warns: Moscow Talk Could Fail

Iran warns that this month's talks in Moscow, over Iran's nuclear program, could stall because of faulty preparation.

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Elad Benari,

Iranian nuclear facility
Iranian nuclear facility

An Iranian negotiator warned on Sunday that this month's talks in Moscow, over Iran's nuclear program, could stall because of faulty preparation.

According to a report in The Associated Press, Ali Bagheri, Iran's No. 2 nuclear negotiator, said advance talks were agreed on to clarify the agenda for the Moscow round, set for June 18-19.

Bagheri made the complaint in a letter to senior EU official Helga Schmid on Sunday.

“The next round of talks in Moscow will be successful provided that deputies and experts are able to prepare a specific agenda on the basis of Iran's proposals and those of 5+1,” he wrote in his letter, according to the report. He was referring to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany.

“If agreements at each round of talks are not pursued by deputies and experts in an appropriate manner, what will be the guarantee for success of the upcoming talks,” he added.

Concerned that Iran might be aiming toward nuclear weapons, the West wants to stop its 20 percent uranium enrichment program. In exchange for discussing enrichment, Iran wants the West to ease sanctions.

Schmid has indicated there is no need for preliminary talks. The EU official said the six-power proposal at recent talks in Baghdad addresses "our key concerns on the 20 percent enrichment activities."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused major world powers last week of looking for ways to “find excuses and to waste time” in talks over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

“Iran is ready to pursue negotiations in Moscow, and even in Beijing, and has made good proposals,” Ahmadinejad said in the Chinese capital.

“But taking into account that, after a meeting in Baghdad and, in conformity with what was agreed, our efforts to arrange a meeting between the deputies of (EU foreign policy chief Catherine) Ashton and the deputy of (Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili) have not been successful, we consider that the West is looking for excuses to waste time,” he added.

Meanwhile, the UN’s nuclear watchdog and Iran failed on Friday to agree on a deal allowing greater access to Tehran's contested nuclear program.

“There has been no progress,” IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts said after all-day talks with Iran's envoy to the agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh and IAEA deputy director general Rafael Grossi.

The agency has been seeking a deal with Iran that would allow greater access to sites, people and documents tied to Tehran's nuclear program.

The planned accord would include agency access to the Parchin military base near Tehran, where the IAEA believes suspicious explosives testing was carried out before 2003 and possibly after that.

New satellite imagery has indicated “extensive activities” at the base, which “could hamper the agency's ability to undertake effective verification” of the site, the IAEA said in a report last month.