Middle East

Iran nuclear talks draw criticism and praise in world press

Foreign ministers pose before nuclear talks in Vienna Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The nuclear talks deadline was extended by several months

The failure of Iran and six world powers to reach agreement in Vienna on Iran's nuclear activities, and their decision to extend negotiations by another seven months, is the subject of extensive comment in Tehran and beyond.

'Successful resistance'

In Iran, hardline newspapers - which oppose Iran taking part in the talks at all - are critical of both the US and the Iranian government over the outcome. The headline in Keyhan, regarded as the Iranian supreme leader's mouthpiece, reads: "The outcome of one year of talks with the P5+1 - The captain [US] was not trustworthy, sanctions renewed".

The paper's editorial - "From Geneva dream to Vienna reality" - says the US and the West intend to re-establish their declining superpower credibility and eventually curb Iran's nuclear programme.

The top story in Vatan-e Emruz, another hardline daily, says "Nothing: One year passed since the Geneva deal, the nuclear talks to lift the sanctions achieved no results, the Geneva deal is extended for another seven months." The paper says that "agreeing to the extension was a huge risk" for Iran.

Image copyright AP
Image caption One paper said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was "pushed to the very limits of his brief"

But conservative daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami defends the Iranian government's "successful resistance", saying the West and the UN have acknowledged that Iran has fulfilled its obligations and proved its honesty over the past year. "Iran has been successful in these talks, while the US has seen failure and disgrace".

The official daily Iran praises the outcome as an "exciting equal score, which did not please the bystanders, although all teams expressed their satisfaction".

Reformist Etemaad agrees that it is a "big mistake" to call the extension of the talks a failure, as "there is no alternative way of getting rid of this international challenge except by talks and diplomacy".

'Slap in the face'

Israeli commentators in general think the failure of the meeting amounts to a setback for the US.

Alex Fishman in Yediot Aharonot daily writes of a "slap in the face" for a US that "courted the Iranians in the most creative, generous way imaginable".

But Zvi Barel in the liberal daily Haaretz thinks much will depend on the "dynamics that will develop in the next seven months" between US Secretary of State John Kerry his Iranian opposite Mohammad Jawad Zarif. "Personal connection have had great, sometimes decisive, influence on the results of previous talks," he writes.

Commentaries in the Arab press highlight the impact of power rivalries on the talks.

Syria's official Tishrin accuses both Saudi Arabia and Israel of trying to "undermine these negotiations to prevent a deal with Iran to lift sanctions", while Mustafa al-Labbad in Lebanon's Al-Safir blames a "conflict of economic interests" among Western countries in relation to Iran.

Yusuf al-Kuwaylit in the Saudi paper Al-Riyadh accuses Gulf states of failing to get involved in the process - "We must understand that our interests, security and future will be in the hands of others if deals are made without our say".

'Lack of trust'

Russian political analyst Andrei Fedorov sees no winners this time round, and blames "lack of trust" between Washington and Tehran. "Iran hasn't won, as prolonged sanctions cause more problems," he tells the business daily Kommersant. As for the US, it has "gained little... as lack of results may push Iran to seek Russian and Chinese support more actively".

Chinese analyst Li Weijian also highlights lack of trust in an interview with the Global Times, but he is optimistic that the "relatively positive rhetoric and the extension to negotiations" mark a "softening of the US longstanding hardline stance" that could make a comprehensive deal possible.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption John Kerry is likely to face pressure for more sanctions against Iran from a Republican-led US Congress

Some European commentators are less sanguine. "Although the great powers rolled out the red carpet for Iran, they failed to win the Holy Grail - the green light from Ayatollah Khamenei to abandon the atom bomb," Blaise Gauquelin writes in France's left-wing daily Liberation. "Secretary of State John Kerry has had to admit the failure of what was yet again billed as another last-chance meeting."

Foreign editor Daniel-Dylan Boehmer of Germany's centre-right daily Die Welt thinks "another rotten compromise" with Iran's "stubborn regime" can lead to unlimited nuclear proliferation - "the damage caused by repeated extensions goes beyond the dispute with Iran, and forms the basis for a world disorder in which nuclear weapons for all provides the ultimate guarantee of freedom and security".

'Deal slips away'

In the United States itself, the New York Times says a "nuclear deal slips away again" because of "hardline politics at home" in both countries.

John Kerry faces talk of more sanctions against Iran from a Republican-led Congress, while Mohammad Jawad Zarif was "pushed to the very limits of his brief" - given that the ultimate decision lies with Ayatollah Khamenei.

The Washington Post also expects a "renewed effort by congressional Republicans to pressure Iran with stepped-up economic sanctions" following failure to reach a comprehensive agreement.

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