A senior U.S. official told the Christian Science Monitor that there was “great difficulty” in trying to move toward common positions and spoke of “significant” differences.
The failure to start the process of drafting a comprehensive agreement diminished the growing sense of optimism that the two sides could narrow down their differences by 20 July, the expiration date of their interim agreement, JPOA.
Iran insists that no limits should be put on its uranium enrichment program, as it needs large amounts of enriched uranium to fuel any future nuclear power reactors to be built in the country, asking to be allowed to operate some 100,000 centrifuges. But the large amount of enriched uranium could also be used to build nuclear weapons in short order, hence the insistence of the West to significantly limit Iran’s enrichment program by keeping its number of centrifuges to few thousands.
And the differences between the two sides are not limited to the size of Iran’s enrichment program and encompass other serious issues such as the length of the final agreement and the resulting constraints on the country’s nuclear program, the extent of the international inspection regime of the program, and issues related to weaponization capabilities. Araqchi indeed said that differences remained on more than a dozen issues.
UPDATE: The next round of Vienna talks will be held on 16-20 June.