Iran maintains right to enrich uranium: negotiator

Iran maintains the right to enrich uranium, its chief negotiator Said Jalili said Saturday, in defiance of world powers after talks on its controversial nuclear programme ended in failure here.

Talks between world powers and Iran ended Saturday without progress in tackling concerns over Tehran’s nuclear programme, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said no more are planned.

“We had hoped to embark on a discussion of practical ways forward, and have made every effort to make that happen. I am disappointed to say that this has not been possible,” Ashton told reporters.

She spoke at the end of two days of talks in Istanbul between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany, whose delegation she headed.

“No new talks have been planned,” she said.

The Iranians were led by the country’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who was to hold a separate press conference.

Ashton said Iranian “pre-conditions relating to enrichment and sanctions” blocked progress, but stressed the powers were committed to pursuing a diplomatic solution to concerns that Tehran is secretly developing an atomic bomb.

The P5+1, she said, sought to negotiate a revised version of a nuclear fuel swap proposal, first discussed in 2009, and ways to improve transparency through monitoring measures by the UN atomic watchdog.

“The door remains open, the choice remains in Iran’s hands,” she said. “Our proposals remain on the table and… we are ready to start talking without preconditions the moment Iran is ready.”

Iran set the stage for a difficult round of negotiations as soon as the meetings began Friday, insisting that its sensitive uranium enrichment work was not up for debate.