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Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

  • Pamela Dockins

Talks between Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany continued through Saturday as the parties tried to hammer out an agreement on the scope of Iran's nuclear program, ahead of a November 24 deadline.

Iran and the so-called P5 + 1 negotiators have been meeting in New York, where world leaders are gathering for next week's U.N. General Assembly.

The two sides have been trying to narrow differences over issues that include Iran's uranium enrichment program.

Uranium enrichment question

Iran said it wants to make reactor fuel for peaceful civilian purposes, but Western powers fear Iran wants to enrich uranium so that it can develop nuclear weapons.

Iran and the six other countries - the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany - launched the latest round of talks at the United Nations on Friday, although bilateral meetings were held earlier in the week.

A senior U.S. administration official said Thursday that many Western negotiators were “not very optimistic” heading into the talks. But, the official said it has since become clear that everyone came to New York “to go to work."

Iranian news agencies said Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, described the atmosphere of the talks as “very good” and constructive. He is a senior member of Iran's negotiating team.

Relief from sanctions

A comprehensive deal between Iran and the P5 + 1 would pave the way for Iran to get relief from international sanctions.

“The sanctions have an important impact and should motivate the Iranians to achieve a deal,” said Robert Einhorn, a former member of the U.S. negotiating team who is now an arms-control and non-proliferation expert at the Brookings Institution.

But, he added, “Iranians are going to be reluctant to achieve a deal on terms that they would consider humiliating.”

The talks in New York are taking place at the political director level.

Senior U.S. administration officials said there is a chance talks could advance to the ministerial level next week, if there is progress on key issues.