Saudi Arabia says Iran talks waste of time; EU to enforce oil embargo on July 1st

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Fisal underlined the rights of the countries in the region to seek nuclear power for peaceful purposes. (Reuters)

Negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program is a “waste of time” and it should be pushed forward towards time-limited talks, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Fisal said on Monday, as Europe confirmed that a ban on oil imports from Iran will go ahead as planned on July 1.

“We really feel that Iran is trying to waste time and energy of everybody,” said Prince Faisal.

The comments came during the joint ministerial meeting between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the European Union (EU) in Luxemburg.

“We had a discussion on Iran, and we are in agreement about the negotiations that has to be done with Iran. To give peace a chance and give a political solution a chance. From past experience we are suspicious that the negotiations are seen as a way to gain time by Iran rather than leash a concrete conclusion of a result. But we were very much assured by lady [Catherine] Ashton that the discussion were technical in view. And if you put this technical negotiation with a time limit this would have to force Iran to say its real policy and how it's going to implement it. Because after all, it’s not the talk about nuclear power or peaceful mean, it’s what they are doing underground. That is important,” Faisal said, according to Al Arabiya.

The West suspects Iran of seeking to make nuclear weapons under the guise of an energy program and wants it to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, which brings it dangerously close to levels needed to make a nuclear bomb.

“And if they can explain the technical aspects of what they are doing underground. This is according to IEAE regulations. That’s well and done. But if they find that technically that they are going beyond, beyond that. Then the suspicion will be confirmed,” said Prince Faisal.

Prince Faisal praised the efforts exerted by the (3+3) or (5+1) group that aims mainly at seeking a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

“They are hoping that eventually, people will regard the ownership of nuclear weapons by Iran, can be manageable. But I must warn that there was never a weapon introduced in the Middle East but was used in the Middle East. No matter how dangerous or illegal it is under international law. The issue is very very critical for the countries of the region. I think for the international community. Should this issue become concrete. But I think (3+3) are doing is important and we hope for success.”

Prince Faisal underlined the rights of the countries in the region to seek nuclear power for peaceful purposes, based on the measure and standards laid by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Prince Faisal expressed his depressions that Iran was not responding to all such efforts and its attempts to manipulate. The Saudi top diplomat underlined the importance of making the Middle East region free of mass-destruction weapons, SPA reported.

Enforcing ban on Iranian oil imports

The EU confirmed earlier Monday that a ban on oil imports from Iran will go ahead as planned on July 1 due to the lack of progress in talks on Tehran’s contested nuclear drive.

“The latest package of EU sanctions against Iran will apply as earlier decided,” EU foreign ministers said in a statement referring to their January agreement to enforce an oil embargo failing a breakthrough in talks on Iran's nuclear program.

The 27-nation bloc agreed on Jan. 23 to immediately ban new oil imports from Iran and phase out existing contracts by July 1 after weeks of fraught talks on an embargo which is likely to hurt debt-straddled EU nations such as Greece.

“Following a review of the measures the council confirmed that they would remain as approved in January,” Monday’s EU statement added.

This meant on the one hand that contracts for importing Iranian oil that were concluded before Jan. 23 “will have to be terminated by July 1.”

“From the same date, EU insurers may no more provide third-party liability and environmental liability insurance for the transport of Iranian oil,” the statement said, according to AFP.

It added that “the objective of the EU remains to achieve a comprehensive, long-term settlement on the basis of meaningful negotiations between the E3+3 (global powers Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S.) and Iran.”

Confirmation that the embargo will be enforced comes days after talks in Moscow between Iran and world powers on its nuclear program failed to reach a breakthrough.

Negotiators from permanent U.N. Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany, last week agreed with their Iranian counterparts to stage a new expert-level meeting in Istanbul on July 3.

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