Tehran (AFP) – Iran and Russia on Tuesday blamed friction among world powers for the failure of talks in Geneva that had come tantalizingly close to a landmark deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.
The two states dismissed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that Iran had balked just as the so-called P5+1 world powers were closing in on a deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.
“The P5+1 was unified on Saturday when we presented our proposal to the Iranians… But Iran couldn’t take it,” Kerry, who took part in the talks, said in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected Kerry’s comments, while alluding to statements by his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, who has been pilloried in the Iranian media after reports emerged that he had scuppered the potential deal.
“Mr Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of U.S. draft Thursday night? And publicly commented against it Friday morning?” Zarif said on his Twitter account.
Zarif spent nearly seven hours with Kerry in Geneva as both sides worked on the draft text of an agreement.
Russia also denied Iran was to blame for the failure to agree on a landmark interim agreement that would have frozen much of Tehran’s program while the two sides worked on a comprehensive deal.
“The draft joint document suited the Iranian side. But since decisions at negotiations are taken by consensus, it was not possible to make a final deal,” a foreign ministry source said in comments carried by all Russia’s main news agencies.
“And this was not the fault of the Iranians,” the source added, rejecting Kerry’s laying of the blame at Iran’s door.
“Such an interpretation simplifies to an extreme and even distorts what happened in Geneva,” the source said.
The marathon, high-profile talks involving Iran and the P5+1 — Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany — ended inconclusively early on Sunday.
Diplomats insist they are close to a deal, however, and the talks are set to resume in Geneva on November 20 at the lower level of political directors.