Iran nuclear talks face further delay

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The next talks between six global powers and Iran on its ­nuclear programme are likely to be delayed until February, a diplomat said yesterday, after ­European officials accused ­Tehran of stalling on fixing a time and place for a meeting.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is coordinating efforts by the powers to persuade Iran to scale back nuclear activity that the West suspects is aimed at developing the capability to produce ­nuclear weapons.

The long stand-off over ­Tehran’s nuclear programme has fuelled concerns Israel could attack Iran’s nuclear installations and thereby unleash a broader Middle East war.

Nuclear diplomacy between Iran and the US, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain has been in deadlock since a meeting in June last year ended without a breakthrough.

Talks had been expected to resume soon after last November’s re-election of US President Barack Obama, possibly in ­December or January.

EU diplomats and Iranian officials have held intensive discussions on arranging a new round. But EU officials say Iran has been dragging its feet on ­fixing a date and location.

“It seems more likely now that the next round will take place in February,” a European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “There is still no agreement on the next round.”