It is too early to say whether Iran and six world powers made progress on Tuesday towards resolving the decade-long standoff over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Reuters. “It’s too soon to judge,” Araqchi said after the first day of resumed negotiations between Tehran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany. He was responding to a question about whether Iran and the six powers were any closer to resolving the nuclear dispute after the first day of the two-day talks in Geneva.  Meanwhile, Iran’s senior negotiator said the nuclear offer that Tehran presented to world powers in Geneva did not cover snap inspections of its atomic facilities. “It does not exist in the offer,” Agence France-Presse quoted Abbas Araghchi as saying, after being asked if the additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) allowing unannounced inspections was included in the proposal. The additional protocol allows reinforced and unannounced inspections of a country’s nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and requires that information be provided on all activities regarding the nuclear fuel cycle. For the time being, Iran is only obliged to inform the IAEA three months ahead of transferring fissile material into the nuclear site. While Iran, a signatory of the NPT, voluntarily implemented the additional protocol between 2003 and 2005, it ceased to apply it after its nuclear case was sent to the United Nations Security Council.
Meanwhile, a senior State Department official said Iranian and U.S. delegations held “useful” bilateral talks Tuesday evening on the sidelines of the high-profile talks in Geneva. “As had been expected, Under Secretary (Wendy) Sherman and members of the US delegation held a bilateral meeting with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister (Abbas) Araqchi and members of the Iranian delegation tonight,” AFP quoted the U.S. official as saying. The meeting lasted nearly an hour, the source added. Also, a figure close to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team confirmed the talks, but did not provide details.
The rare meeting came after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his U.S. counterpart John Kerry held a 30-minute face-to-face discussion in New York last month on the sidelines of talks within the framework of the so-called P5+1 group. The last time Iranian and American delegations held bilateral meetings was in October 2009. (With Reuters and AFP)