Iran and US meet in breakthrough talks to open ‘window of opportunity’ for nuclear disarmament

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani insists Israel must join Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as John Kerry describes meeting as ‘constructive’

 

New York

Iran has sat down for historic talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, opening up a “window of opportunity” for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear standoff.

The foreign minister for Iran, Javad Zarif, also took part in a private 20-minute meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, following a group discussion with counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the US to discuss reviving stalled talks on Iran's uranium enrichment efforts – which the West says are aimed at developing an atomic bomb.

The meeting, which saw Mr Zarif seated next to John Kerry, marked the highest-level talks between the two sides in over three decades.

After those talks, Mr Kerry leaned over and asked Mr Zarif: “Shall we talk for a few minutes?”. They stayed behind in the meeting room after the exit of representatives from the other countries, and senior US officials said that what followed was a marked departure from past encounters.

Following the meeting, Mr Kerry welcomed what he said was a change in Iran's “tone”. “We had a very constructive meeting,” he told reporters, but added that “there is a lot of work to be done”.

Mr Zarif said: “I am satisfied with this first step. Now we have to see whether we can match our positive words with serious deeds so we can move forward.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there had been a “big improvement in the tone and spirit” from Iran compared with the previous government under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

And German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the meeting had taken place in a “completely different tone and atmosphere” than what the group was used to and that a “window of opportunity has opened” for a peaceful resolution of the situation.

Hours before the highly-anticipated meeting, the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, declared that no country had the right to a nuclear arsenal and demanded that Israel join the 1979 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“No nation should possess nuclear weapons, since there are no right hands for these wrong weapons,” Mr Rouhani told a disarmament meeting on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Since arriving in New York, President Rouhani has been engaged in a vigorous campaign to present a newly moderate face of Iran and insist he is serious about rejecting nuclear weapons. The message has been delivered in his address to the Assembly on Monday, in private bilateral meetings - including with the French President, François Hollande - as well as in an interview with CNN and a private breakfast with top US editors and news anchors on Wednesday.

But any suggestion that Israel joining the NPT might be a condition of co-operation by Iran would complicate the process. Israel has warned the US and others not to take Mr Rouhani at face value, adding that he is subordinate to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini.

Noting Israel's failure to sign the treaty, Mr Rouhani said: “Almost four decades of... efforts to establish a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East have regrettably failed.” He said all nations should be subject to unfettered inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, something the West has long been demanding of Tehran.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea