However, until the Islamic Republic does not prove that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, enriching facilities should be cut, stated Washington, reports Itar-Tass.
Iran and six world powers resumed talks on Thursday aimed at clinching a long-term deal later this month on the scope of Tehran’s contested nuclear program. The cost of failure could be high. If diplomacy falls short, the risk of Israeli air strikes on Iranian nuclear sites could rise, and with it the threat of a wider Middle East conflict, Reuters reports.
After informal contacts on Wednesday, chief negotiators from Iran, the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain began a full plenary.
There are less than three weeks to try to agree on the future dimensions of Iran’s uranium enrichment program and other issues if they are to meet a self-imposed July 20 deadline for a deal. Western officials privately acknowledge that additional talks might be needed.
Washington and some of its allies have imposed sanctions on Iran over suspicions that its nuclear program is designed to produce weapons – a charge denied by Iran, which says it is only interested in producing electricity and other peaceful projects.
US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns is expected to attend talks between Iran and the six powers in Vienna this week that aim to strike a nuclear deal by July 20, Reuters reports. The new round of talks starts today and will continue until at least July 15. The presence of the American diplomat who led secret negotiations between Iran and the United States would open up the possibility of bilateral talks between the two diplomatic rivals.
Burns has met the Iranians two times during the last month, first in Geneva for bilateral talks and later in Vienna, where the wider nuclear talks are to be held.
During the latter talks, he broached the possibility of US and Iran’s cooperation to stabilize Iraq against an onslaught by Sunni militants.
The primary disagreement between the United States and Iran is over the Iranian nuclear program, which Washington and some of its allies suspect is designed to produce atomic weapons. Iran denies this, saying the program is for peaceful purposes.
The United States along with Britain, China, France, Russia, Germany (the P5+1) and Iran reached an interim pact on Nov. 24 under which Iran won some relief from the economic sanctions in return for reducing some of its nuclear facilities.
Their target is to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement that would lay to rest Western concerns about the Iranian program and comprehensively ease sanctions on Tehran by July 20, but outside analysts and diplomats are deeply skeptical they can achieve this.
Western officials have said very little progress has been made after five rounds of talks since February toward striking a deal that could end years of hostility and defuse the risk of a new war and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Both sides have said their goal is to have a deal by July 20 and avoid a difficult extension of the interim accord which expires then. Privately, Western diplomats say they would be willing to consider extending the interim deal and continuing talks beyond July 20 only if an agreement was clearly in sight.