Iran is striking a defiant tone ahead of more talks on its disputed nuclear programme which resume today in Istanbul.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will chair the tricky negotiations, with Tehran warning that it will go on enriching uranium even if its nuclear facilities come under military attack.
There are signs of cracks in the various countries’ approach. Russia has criticised the US and the EU for imposing unilateral sanctions on Iran, beyond those agreed by the UN Security Council.
“Both sides have different expectations about this meeting,” said Bruno Tertrais of the Foundation for Strategic Research. “Iran wants to gain time; that’s a fundamental Iranian strategy. They want to avoid as much as possible to give the opportunity for the P5+1 (Security Council permanent members United States, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany) to proceed with a additional sanctions. They want to show that they are constantly open to dialogue.”
A meeting in Geneva last month yielded no accord after a break in talks of more than a year.
There is international concern that Iran’s declared civilian nuclear energy programme is a cover for making nuclear weapons.
Washington is keen to keep up the pressure on Tehran, hinting that it may propose new unilateral sanctions.