Nuclear Talks Between Iran, World Powers End With No Progress

Iranian and U.S. officials say large gaps remain between the sides and no headway was made on drafting an agreement.

Iran nuclear talks in Vienna - AFP
EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Margaret Ashton, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Mohammad Zarif and Iranian ambassador to Austria Hassan Tajik in Vienna, on May 14, 2014. AFP

The fourth round of nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers in Vienna ended Friday with no results and with large gaps between the sides regarding the issues.

As opposed to the last three round of talks between Iran and the world powers – U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany – in which progress was made, the discussions in the current round moved slowly and many disagreements surfaced.

Due to the lack of progress, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif and EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton did not hold a press conference and no joint statement was issued after the talks, as opposed to previous rounds.

Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi acknowledged the meeting made "no progress" in its ambitious goal of starting to draft an agreement. In that, "we failed," he told reporters. But while saying he was disappointed, he insisted that the result of the three-day talks that ended Friday represented no more than a setback at this point in continuing attempts to reach a deal.

Meanwhile, in off the record statements, senior Iranian officials sounded much more pessimistic. "The demands of the world powers are unreasonable," a senior Iranian official said. "Their demands exceeded those based on logical concerns. We cannot remove unrealistic worries," he said.

A senior U.S. official in the negotiating team said that there was great difficulty in this round of talks.

"There are significant gaps and the talks were difficult," he said. "We are talking about ways to bridge the gaps. It's more difficult conversation that just putting the issues on table."

But the U.S. official also did not announce that the talks were a failure and tried to show some optimism. "This is a difficult moment," he said. "But this was not unexpected. There is a path forward here. Time is not unlimited. But we believe we can still get it done."

The official added that during the four days of talks there was a sense of urgency in the discussion room and that the sides are still looking at July 20 as the deadline for an agreement. "Meetings will get more frequent," he said. "We're going to be spending a lot of time in Vienna."