Coming up

Don't miss




Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more


Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more


Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more


Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more


Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more


French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more


Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more


Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

  • Air Algérie crash site located, France sending military unit

    Read more

  • Air Algérie crash: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets with Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to easy victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European aviation agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

Middle east

Stakes high as Iran, US face off at six-nation nuclear talks

Video by Nicolas RUSWORTH , Pauline SIMONET

Text by Mehdi CHEBIL

Latest update : 2009-10-01

Delegations from Iran (photo) and six world powers, including the US, are meeting in Geneva Thursday for critical nuclear talks amid heightened tensions following Tehran’s revelation of a second uranium enrichment site last week.

Six world powers held nuclear talks with Iran on Thursday in Switzerland amid increased tensions over the disclosure of a second uranium enrichment plant and Iran’s recent missile tests.

A spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the atmosphere at the talks was "cordial and businesslike".


The first part of the meeting between Iran's nuclear negotiator and officials from the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany lasted three hours, AFP reported quoting a diplomat.

"We will look at how the day progresses, if the meeting continues or not... that would depend on how it goes in the morning and lunch," the source said.

Senior officials from the US, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia were expected to push Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, to accept a “freeze for freeze” plan in order to prevent any militarisation of Iran’s nuclear programme. Doubts remained, however, over the Iranian negotiator’s willingness to talk about the second enrichment facility at Qom, which the United States, Britain and France revealed last week.

Maurin Picard, a FRANCE 24 correspondent in Geneva, says the six powers are back with the same plan: “Iran will have to freeze all enrichment-related activities to obtain in return a freeze of economic sanctions imposed by the UN security council over the last two years”.

This proposition is likely to be a no-starter for Iranians, who are adamant that enriching uranium is their national sovereign right. Iran has always claimed its nuclear programme is peaceful, defying five UN Security Council resolutions that demand it suspend all sensitive nuclear activities.

But Tehran’s repeated attempts to dissimulate the scale of its enrichment facilities have led to widespread doubts about the ultimate purpose of Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran is allegedly operating thousands of centrifuges in its enriching facilities in Natanz and Qom.


Western powers have said they are ready to impose new sanctions on Iran should the talks fail to make any progress.

Speaking to a Moscow radio, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner sounded hopeful that sanctions could be avoided: “I am not a fanatic of sanctions against the people (of Iran). Sometimes they are useful but we are not talking about the sanctions in Geneva so far”.

Analysts contacted by FRANCE 24 have questioned the effectiveness of economic sanctions against Iran, saying these should not undermine domestic opposition to the Iranian leadership.

“Since the June 12 presidential election, we have a new situation. The survival of the regime is at stake and we should not hurt the very people who are protesting against Iran’s current leaders”, said Michel Taubman, a French political analyst and author of “A Secret History of the Iranian Revolution”.

The Geneva talks could lead to the first high-level bilateral meeting between the US and Iran since the Obama administration vowed to improve ties between the two countries.

US officials said the head of the US delegation, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, was not actively seeking a one-on-one meeting with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, though he would not reject one if the opportunity arose.

The administration of former President George W. Bush reluctantly began to take part in multilateral talks with Iran only towards the end of his presidency.

According to Ardavan Amir Alami, an international lawyer, the new administration in Washington is ready to “scale down” its ambitions by accepting a bilateral dialogue with the Iranians without pre-conditions.

Date created : 2009-10-01