|Iran, major powers hold ‘useful’ expert-level nuclear talks||
TEHRAN – An Iranian nuclear negotiator says a new round of expert-level talks between Iran and the major powers on Tehran’s nuclear program has been “useful”.
“Useful talks were held and expert views on technical issues were expressed and discussed before the next round of talks in Vienna,” Hamid Baeidinejad, the head of the Iranian delegation, told ISNA on Thursday.
Experts from Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) held a meeting in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare for the next round of political-level talks which will start in Vienna on May 14.
The expert-level talks were held on the sidelines of the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which was held from April 27 to May 9 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The Vienna talks are meant to build on an interim deal struck in Geneva in November 2013 to reach a comprehensive agreement to help resolve the decade-old dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Under the Geneva deal, Iran agreed not to expand its nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief. The agreement came into force on January 20. Iran and the major powers have set a July 20 deadline to clinch a long-term nuclear deal.
Reuters also on Thursday quoted an EU spokesman as saying, “(The major powers) and Iranian technical experts had a useful meeting on 6-7 May in New York.”
“The talks aimed at further deepening of the knowledge on the issues and to contribute to the preparations for the next round of (senior-level) negotiations on a comprehensive agreement due to take place next week in Vienna.”
Some Western countries claim Iran may have tried to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, intended solely for generating electricity and isotopes usable in cancer treatment.
A Western diplomat, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Iran and the six powers had made progress on scenarios for resolving a dispute over Iran’s Arak nuclear reactor, which could yield significant quantities of plutonium if it is brought on line without major modifications.
“More difficult for getting a deal is uranium enrichment in general and centrifuge R&D,” the diplomat said.
Western diplomats close to the negotiations say banning all enrichment work in Iran is unrealistic given the size of the program, according to Reuters.
Earlier this week Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that senior officials from the countries involved in the talks now plan to start drafting a text of a possible deal.
“As a result of this round, we should at least get some elements of the agreed text and elements of the common text,” he told RIA news agency in an interview. Ryabkov did not give details on what areas the partial agreement he expects to come out of next week’s talks in Vienna might cover.
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