'Too early to judge': Talks over Iran's nuclear programme take place in Geneva... but possible settlement remains some way off

The conference is the first since the election of the reformist Hassan Rouhani to the Iranian presidency

Talks in Geneva between the international community and Iran over the country's nuclear programme ended with an agreement on the framework for future meetings, but with any possible settlement remaining some way in the future.

The delegation from Tehran had put forward a three step strategy - with another meeting in a few weeks and a process lasting over many months - during which Iran would curtail uranium enrichment and allow greater access for inspectors in return for the easing of sanctions which had been hitting its beleaguered economy hard.

Separately, discussions on the 'margins' has resulted in progress towards normalisation of diplomatic relations between Britain and Iran. The UK had expelled the Iranian legation in London after the embassy in Tehran was ransacked by a mob two years ago.

The Iranian plan, titled “End an unnecessary crisis: opening new horizons”, envisages a further series of talks with a 'confidence building' meeting within six months followed by two further tranches of talks.

The conference in Geneva is the first since the election of the reformist Hassan Rouhani to the Iranian presidency and his highly publicised telephone conversation with Barack Obama. The proceedings are said to have been amicable and joint communique is due to be issued by Mr Zarif and EU foreign policy commissioner Catherine Ashton.

Although details are yet to be confirmed, it is believed that Iran had mooted the possibility of stopping the enrichment, and allowing greater oversight in the future. However it seemed unlikely that Tehran will sign 'additional protocols' which will allow the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to carry out extensive inspections in the near future. 

One key element of the Protocols would be for the nuclear watchdog to carry out 'spot checks'. An Iranian official had stated such inspections would be permitted under the proposals at an early date. At present Iran is only obliged to inform the IAEA three months before moving fissile material to nuclear sites.

But Abbas Araqchi, another of the deputy foreign ministers cautioned: “None of these issues exist in the first step, but they are part of our last step. It is early to judge and say we made progress in bringing our views closer together. We will hear their views and if there is any alignment with in our views, then we can take a step forward.”

Iran may not find it particularly difficult to temporarily halt enrichment to more than 20 per cent. Ali Larijani, the highly influential parliamentary speaker, has already strongly hinted at concessions being made on the point, saying that the country had a surplus of enriched uranium.

What Iran expects in return, an easing of sanctions, may prove much more problematic. Foreign Secretary William Hague stated: “We are not today in a position to make any changes in those sanctions. Sanctions must continue. Sanctions are important part of bringing Iran to the negotiating table.”

Nevertheless the European Union may prove to be more emollient on the issue; but the punitive measures taken by the US is likely to be a sticking point.

The easing of restrictions on items like medical supplies, travel and spare parts for aircraft may go through, but anything more substantial is likely to run into stern opposition in Congress where the Israeli lobby is influential.

Senior members such as Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, hold that Iran must stop even low-level enrichment before the first steps are taken in easing sanctions. Furthermore, failure to do so may result in even tougher ones being imposed.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a flexible inspirat...

Foundation Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a ni...

year 5 teacher

£21000 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform