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Iran Nuclear Talks Shadowed by Ukraine Tension

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Jan. 16, 2014.
Iran and the six world powers have launched a new round of nuclear talks as increasing tensions between the West and Russia cast a shadow over the negotiations.

The latest discussions began Tuesday in Vienna after what a spokesman for the European Union's foreign policy chief described as a "constructive" meeting between Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Later, the full delegations sat down together for talks expected to end late Wednesday.

Although the negotiations have no direct connection to Ukraine, their success depends on solidarity among the so-called P5-plus-one countries — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — in favor of a tough agreement with Iran to significantly downsize its nuclear program.

Experts knowledgeable about the talks say that if Russia signals its cooperation with the West has weakened, that will reduce pressure on Iran to make concessions.

The West suspects Iran intends to use its uranium enrichment program to produce nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Some information for this report comes from AFP and Reuters.

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