News / Middle East

Iran and World Powers Begin Nuclear Talks in Vienna

US: Iran Must Prove Peaceful Nuclear Intentionsi
July 03, 2014 2:19 AM
As the July 20 deadline looms for an agreement on Iran's nuclear program, the United States says Tehran has a clear choice when it comes to demonstrating its peaceful intentions. VOA's Aru Pande has more as delegates from Iran and the world's major powers gather in Vienna for a sixth round of negotiations.
Watch related video report from VOA's Aru Pande
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Delegates from Iran and six world powers have begun a final round of talks as the deadline approaches for a final agreement on Tehran's nuclear program.

Negotiators from Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia began the opening plenary session of the sixth round of nuclear talks Thursday in Vienna.

On Wednesday, Iran signaled it is ready to take concrete steps to ensure its nuclear program remains peaceful, but will not ''kneel in submission."

Speaking in a YouTube video, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged negotiators to use mutual respect in negotiations, rather than what he called a "spiral of escalation."

The parties face a July 20 deadline for a final agreement or risk the possibility that the talks could be extended and get tougher. Last month's attempts at a deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting U.N. and Western sanctions ended in a stalemate.

The two sides are believed to be far apart on key issues, such as to what extent Iran will be allowed to keep enriching uranium and to what extent sanctions will be lifted.

Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in The Washington Post this week that Iran's leaders can "agree to the steps necessary to assure the world that their country’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful... or they can squander a historic opportunity to end Iran’s economic and diplomatic isolation and improve the lives of their people."

Iran says it does not want a bomb, insisting its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful civilian purposes.

The State Department warned that time is running out for Iran to prove it does not want a nuclear weapon.

"What we are asking for are reasonable, verifiable, and easily achievable measures.  But we have not yet seen what choice the Iranians will make. This isn't one of capacity. It's one of will, and we will see what we can get done," said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf in Washington.

U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said "good progress" on a nuclear deal has been made, with the United States providing limited sanctions relief after Iran took certain steps in the last six months.

"Iran [is] meeting its commitments to, again, get rid of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium, not install new advanced centrifuges, provide for additional transparency," said Rhodes.

But, Rhodes said, Iran has not taken the necessary steps to assure world leaders of its peaceful nuclear intentions.

Choices regarding Iran will likely be made as the situation in its neighbor Iraq continues to deteriorate amid political turmoil and a Sunni militant group fighting to gain more territory.

U.S. officials raised the Iraqi conflict with Iran on the sidelines of last month's nuclear talks, but want to keep the issues separate. Singh said this is because the U.S. wants to avoid Iran using assistance in ending the turmoil in Iraq as a bargaining chip.

"I think the view on the U.S. side is that Iran will try to use the Iraqi issue or other regional issues as leverage in the nuclear negotiations," explained Singh.

For the next three weeks, the focus will be on finalizing a nuclear deal. And while Iran has said it is open to extending negotiations, U.S. officials say they will not drag out talks unless there is a genuine willingness for all sides to come to an agreement.

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Comment Sorting
by: MKhattib from: USA
July 03, 2014 6:20 PM
Iran will not relinquish its desire to not only expand its refining capacity, but also improve it with next generation centrifuges. While the West wants Iran to downsize from its current 19,000 centrifuge level, Iran has staunchly stated its desire to expand with another 30,000 new centrifuges. Iran can live with most other concessions, because so long as it preserves it refining capacity, it still retains the ability to generate large amounts of weapons grade material quickly. Ultimately this is going to be the Achilles heel of these negotiations and rightly so. As long as Iran stays on this path, the West should resist and not conclude this agreement.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 03, 2014 8:15 AM
Let's talk about how we can add more fuel to the fire! The UNaware, UNcaring, and Unbelievable UN will talk us all to death, literally!

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 03, 2014 7:43 AM
Iran believes it holds the four aces. And why not if the US has dropped certain options from the table irrespective of pretending some of them were still there. I mean that the troubles in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and the fear that Russia might be up to something out there keeps Obama administration overstretched. Wary of tripping over another red line, especially with ebbing popularity of the president, Iran understands that the US is making every effort to avoid wars or even a mention of it as a way of shoring up self-centered gains at the cost of national interest.

The mishandling of the situation in Syria that has once again produced another deadly tentacle of the death merchant al qaida at ISIL now troubling US interests in Iraq shows how helpless the US has become to even help itself. So Iran, wary of all that, must make good on the negotiations even with a bluff, until the leadership at the White House is changed for something that can bring about a restoration of dignity.

Until then, it continues to progressively change from 'Iran must not enrich uranium' to 'Iran can be allowed to maintain limited enrichment', to 'Iran can be allowed to enrich as much as it wants if it can prove its enrichment is for peaceful purposes only'. And why not? After all the president's agenda or manifesto was predicated on CHANGE, so nothing is wrong if everything keeps changing in so far as it is "change". Surely we are changing into a situation of dangerous CHANGE right now jeopardizing the world.

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