Nobody was expecting a breakthrough at Wednesday’s nuclear talks in Baghdad, but most weren’t expecting a breakdown, either. Indeed, predictions were that Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) would engage on more detailed proposals for concrete, reciprocal confidence building measures, and then adjourn by day’s end having scheduled a new round of talks in a few weeks. But in what may be an exercise in brinkmanship, or a sign of an impending crisis, Iranian officials balked at the offer from the Western powers. ”The points of agreement are not yet sufficient for another round,” an anonymous Iranian official at the talks told AFP.
Iran’s state media, whose upbeat spin on the talks in recent weeks had many analysts concluding that Tehran was preparing its public for a deal, slammed what it called the “outdated” and “unbalanced” proposals by the Western powers in Baghdad. At Iranian insistence, Thursday will see a second day of talks in Baghdad, and the parties remained locked in negotiations until midnight. That looked like a tactic to create a mini crisis on the key sticking point in the talks: the question of whether Iran will be granted any relief from escalating Western sanctions if it agrees to the immediate confidence-building steps demanded by the P5+1.