News / Middle East

Russia, West to Resume Iran Talks

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif (R) wait for the start of closed-door nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, March 18, 2014.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif (R) wait for the start of closed-door nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, March 18, 2014.
Al Pessin
Amid the Crimea controversy, Russian and Western negotiators sat together Tuesday in Vienna for the next round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program.  

While Russian President Vladimir Putin called on his parliament to annex Crimea, in defiance of Western warnings not to, senior Russian diplomats sat with American and other Western officials to work on the Iran nuclear issue.

The international negotiating team is made up of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, and is led by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has issued strong condemnations of Russia’s actions in Crimea.

But her spokesman, Michael Mann, says the Crimea controversy is not affecting the Iran talks.

"The great joy of these discussions so far is that the E3+3 [P5+1] has always remained united and that is still the case," he said. "I have not seen any negative effect at all. We will continue our good work in a unified fashion."

A senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had a similar assessment, saying all six countries representing the United Nations “remain completely united” and are “very cohesive” on the Iran nuclear issue. The official expressed the hope that “whatever happens in the days ahead” regarding Russia and Crimea “will not put these negotiations at risk.”

The aim of the Vienna talks is to reach a comprehensive agreement to guarantee Iran’s nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, as Iran says it is. Many countries and experts believe Iran is developing the capability to build a nuclear bomb.

The talks follow on from an agreement reached in Geneva in November, which expires in July. U.N. and U.S. officials say Iran is fulfilling its commitments under that accord, including the dilution of its stockpile of near weapons-grade uranium to a safer level.  The United States and other countries have responded with limited relief from economic sanctions, as agreed.

The senior officials have been meeting monthly for several days, with lower-level technical specialists meeting more frequently. Experts say they do not expect any agreement until very close to the deadline, if one can be reached at all.  

Everyone involved emphasizes how difficult the issues are, including international demands for even more intrusive inspections and the dismantling of some Iranian nuclear facilities. The U.N. team also wants to discuss Iran’s missile program, which the Iranian negotiators say should not be part of these discussions.

EU spokesman Michael Mann says, “I would not like to make any predictions about how things are going to go because we have said all along that these are going to be very complicated and difficult negotiations.

"So, we will keep pushing on," he added. "The most important thing is that a deal is done that is a good, solid deal that everyone can live with and everyone is happy with. And clearly to do that as quickly as possible is also important. But it is the quality of the deal that counts.”

Earlier, the senior U.S. official declined to discuss specifics of the talks, but said they are “moving forward in a positive way” and that all parties are “intent on succeeding” before the deadline.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs