Turkey's Davutoğlu discusses Iran’s nuke drive with EU’s Ashton
SEOUL / JERUSALEM
Turkish FM (L) discussed Iran with EU foreign policy chief Ashton on the phone.Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who accompanied Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the nuclear summit in Seoul, discussed Iran’s nuclear negotiations in a phone conversation with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on March 26, diplomatic sources said. The conversation came as Western diplomats said Iran and six world powers would meet April 13 for new talks about Tehran’s nuclear program, despite disagreement over the venue.
Previous meetings’ failures and disputes over the issues to be discussed were preventing an agreement on the venue. Three diplomats from Western nations accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China opposed Iran’s choice of Istanbul because the last round of talks there 14 months ago ended in failure. They said, on the condition of anonymity, Iran, in turn, rejected Vienna because it is home to the IAEA, which is trying to probe allegations Tehran secretly worked on nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, Israel yesterday played down the prospect of an imminent attack on Iran, saying its arch-foe’s controversial nuclear program could still be set back by sanctions and sabotage. Moshe Yaalon, a senior deputy to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the mid-April talks would show “if there is a chance that the sanctions are working or that the Iranians are continuing to maneuver and advance toward a military nuclear capability.” But asked during an interview with Israel’s Army Radio if this meant the Netanyahu government might be just weeks away from launching a war against Iran, Yaalon demurred.
“No. Look, we have to see,” he said. “The (Iranian nuclear) project is not static – whether that means progress, or sometimes, retreat. All sorts of things are happening there.”
“Sometimes there are explosions, sometimes there are worms there, viruses, all kinds of things like that,” Yaalon said, suggesting setbacks plaguing Iran over the past three years, including the assassination of several of its scientists and the Stuxnet malware that stymied core computer systems, could be repeated.