Little Progress at Fifth Round of Nuke Talks

            Iran and the world’s six major powers failed to compromise on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program in the fifth round of talks since 2011. The United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom ― the so-called P5+1― met with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan on April 5 and 6. The following are remarks by officials on the talks.

Supreme National Security Council Secretary and chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili
            “Of course there is some distance between the positions of the two sides. The Islamic Republic of Iran has announced on numerous occasions - stressing the rights of the Iranian people including the right to enrich and an end to behaviors which are a sign of enmity towards the people of Iran - based on these two points, the proposal was tabled to help us to proceed in a constructive fashion…
            We think that in this round of talks, some good negotiations were conducted, and now in consideration to our new proposals, it is now up to the 5+1 to demonstrate its willingness and sincerity to take proportionate confidence building steps.” April 6 in an official statement
            “[R]recognition of Iran’s right to [uranium] enrichment and putting an end to hostile behaviors” towards Iran are ways to build its confidence. April 6 to media
Member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi
            The talks were “considered effective and a step forward,” but Iran will never stop its nuclear program. April 7 to ISNA
Supreme National Security Council Deputy Secretary Ali Baqeri
            “[C]onfidence-building measures should be considered as part of a comprehensive plan, not separate from it.”  April 5 to the press after the first day of negotiations
The United States
Secretary of State John Kerry
            “With respect to Almaty, Lady Cathy Ashton and Under Secretary Wendy Sherman have made it clear that there was somewhat of a gap that remains, obviously, as a consequence of the discussions that they had in Almaty. And I think that we would hope that we might have been able to move that somewhat closer. But the door is still open to doing that, and yes indeed it is important to continue to talk and to try to find the common ground.
            I think the President has made it clear, and I would reiterate today, that this is not an endless process. This is not something where you can play to the clock. You can’t just delay and talk for the sake of talking. So we would repeat to Iran it is our desire to have a diplomatic solution, but this choice really lies in the hands of Iranians. If you have a peaceful program for nuclear power, as a number of nations do, it is not hard to prove to the world that it is peaceful. Those other nations do that today. 
            The reason that Iran is increasingly finding itself isolated and in a position of being sanctioned is because they have chosen – they have chosen – not to live up to the international requirements and standards with respect to verification about their program. And the international community – not the United States, not a religion, not one particular philosophy, but countries under the United Nations and through the international community have come together and asked Iran, if your program is peaceful, please take the steps that are rational in order to prove it to the world. Now, that’s what we’re waiting for.
            But as I said earlier and repeat again, this is not an interminable process. So we hope that out of Almaty will come a narrowing of some of the differences. Diplomacy is a painful task, and a task for the patient. And you need to take the time to work through some of these things. Obviously, there is an election. That complicates the choices with respect to the politics of Iran. And we’re aware of that. But we will continue, the President is determined to continue to pursue the diplomatic channel. We will continue to have discussions through the P-5+1 process. And we remain open and hopeful that a diplomatic solution can be found…” April 7 at a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey
            “No option will be taken off the table. And I confirm to you, Mr. President, that we will continue to seek a diplomatic solution. But our eyes are open, and we understand that the clock is moving. And no one will allow the diplomatic process to stand in the way of whatever choices need to be made to protect the world from yet another nuclear weapon in the wrong hands...” April 8 at a press conference in Jerusalem, Israel with President Shimon Peres
            “Iran cannot have and will not have a nuclear weapon. And the United States of America has made clear that we stand not just with Israel but with the entire international community in making it clear that we are serious, we are open to negotiation, but it is not an open-ended, endless negotiation; it cannot be used as an excuse for other efforts to try to break out with respect to a nuclear weapon. And we are well aware and coordinating very, very closely with respect to all of our assessments regarding that. But President Obama doesn’t bluff; he’s made that very clear to me. And we hope the Iranians will come back to the table with a very serious proposal...” April 9 at a press conference in Jerusalem, Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
The European Union
High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton
            We “had long and intensive discussions on the issues,” during which “it became clear that the positions of the E3+3 and Iran remain far apart on the substance… We have therefore agreed that all sides will go back to capitals to evaluate where we stand in the process… I will be in touch with Dr. Jalili soon in order to see how to go forward.” April 6 in an official statement
British Foreign Secretary William Hague
            “Lengthy discussions took place on some issues, but a wide gap remains between the parties. Iran's current position falls far short of what is needed to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough…
            We look to Iran to consider carefully whether it wants to continue on its current course, and face increasing pressure and isolation from the international community, or to enter into meaningful negotiations…” April 6, 2013 in a press statement
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
            “[Russia] considers that it's necessary to recognize all rights of Iran, including enrichment... Certainly these talks were a step forward… Unfortunately we were unable to achieve a breakthrough and are still on the threshold… The parties are ready to maintain contacts and hold a new round of talks…
            We worked hard to improve the Baghdad package. We realize that the further the talks go and the closer the key issues are, the more difficult decisions are taken. That is why we don’t seek to dramatize the lack of a compromise.  April 6 to the press
Deputy Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu
            “We are entering hard talks in this regard. More obstacles are lying ahead of us. I think all parties should make this dialogue continue and resolve the disputes with a practical manner and with mutual respect.” April 6 to the press
Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Yuval Steinitz
            The international community should give Iran an ultimatum of “ a few weeks, a month” to stop enriching uranium or face a possible military strike. “The Iranians are playing games and laughing all the way to the bomb… It is time to present the Iranians with a military threat or some kind of red line, an unequivocal ultimatum from the entire world, (which must be delivered) by the United States and the West...
            North Korea was somehow allowed by the international community to gain nuclear weapons and it is threatening to use (them) against South Korea, Japan and even the United States. Imagine what could happen within two or three years not only to Israel but to Europe, the United States and the whole world if the fanatical and extreme regime in Tehran attains nuclear weapons…” April 7 to Israeli army radio