Iran frustrated by lack of deal on nuclear program

Los Angeles Times

TEHRAN, Iran – Iranians expressed frustration Sunday with the lack of a much-anticipated breakthrough in nuclear talks with world powers, with many analysts blaming France and Israel but holding back on traditional outbursts against the United States.

Still, moderates expressed hope that an accord could be reached at future negotiating sessions, though hard-liners, suspicious of the entire process, were predictably more pessimistic.

Kayhan, a hard-line newspaper associated with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called the results of the latest round of talks “ambiguous” and declared that world powers were “blackmailing” Iran.

Moderates supportive of the government of President Hassan Rouhani tended to follow the line of Foreign Secretary Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was present in Geneva for the talks and appeared optimistic after negotiations ended early Sunday.

“We are all on the same wavelength, and that is important. That gives us impetus to move forward the next time,” Zarif told reporters in Geneva after the talks concluded. “It’s something we can build on and move forward.”

The semi-official Fars news agency pointed to “destructive roles of France and Israel” for the failure of negotiators to reach an interim deal after three days of talks between Iran and six world powers: the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. Fars accused French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who told French radio that Paris could not accept a “sucker’s deal,” of packing a metaphorical “revolver” to the sessions.

Israel, Iran’s archenemy, is not party to the nuclear negotiations, but various Iranian observers said its influence was succeeding in stalling progress in Geneva. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the potential accord as “the deal of the century” for Iran even before any of its terms were made public.

Reports from Geneva indicated that France had raised objections to several terms of a possible preliminary agreement, including the status of Iran’s uranium enrichment program and a heavy-water reactor under construction in Arak, 200 miles southwest of Tehran. Hard-liners assailed the inclusion of the Arak facility in the talks.

“This is a new pretext raised by France on behalf of Israel,” said Hamid Reza Taraghi, an influential conservative analyst.

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