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P5+1, Iran political directors to carry on talks in Vienna

February 19, 2014, 2:33 UTC+3 VIENNA
The sides fixed basic approaches which must make it possible to close the IRI's "nuclear dossier"
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© EPA/ PETER LECHNER

VIENNA, February 19, (ITAR-TASS) - The present round of negotiations between the political directors of Iran and the P5+1 (five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and Germany) will be continued here on Wednesday. The main purpose of the three-day meeting, which began on Tuesday, is to determine parameters of the negotiating process which, in the event of its successful completion, must remove all doubts of the international community about the peaceful nature of Tehran's nuclear program.

Thomas Mann, press secretary of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told journalists on Tuesday, "This is only a beginning. Noon expects that a final agreement between Iran and the Six will be reached during this round".

An informed diplomatic source told Itar-Tass that on Tuesday the sides fixed basic approaches which must make it possible to close the IRI's "nuclear dossier".

The nine conceptual points are based on the Geneva Accords, the so-called Joint Action Plan, worked out on November 24, last year. The Action Plan outlines voluntary steps by Iran to curtail its nuclear programme and response measures on the part of Western countries to ease economic sanctions which heavily affect the economy of the 80-million-strong Islamic Republic.

The details of the nine points, which set avenues for discussions, are not disclosed, considering especially the sensitiveness of themes under discussion. And the negotiations proper, judging by ackwoledgements by persons involved in the process, "are proceeding a stickily but constructively".

Meanwhile all the sides get ready for difficult negotiations. "The process will be intensive and no-easy," Mann said.

"A period of difficult talks begins," said Sergei Ryabkov, leader of the Russian delegation and RF Deputy Foreign Minister. His American counterpart, Wendy Sherman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, for her part, pointed out that the talks would be very difficult.

Representatives of the Sextet at this stage prefer keeping away from mentioning themes, a discussion of which renders the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement with Tehran challenging. A comprehensive agreement is to replace the intermediate Geneva accords.

Meanwhile, Iranian delegation officials said before leaving by air for Vienna that the determination of the number of centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the setting of bounds for the enrichment process, and the settlement of the question of the future of the heavy-water research reactor at Arak which, as is feared in the West and in Israel may be used for obtaining weapons-grade plutonium, would be the main stumbling block.

According to the Geneva accords, intended for six months, Iran agreed not to enrich uranium beyond five percent. As far as the Arak-based reactor is concerned, Tehran is prepared not to make headway in its operation. However, this refers to obligations, which can be extended but still are temporary ones and are due to expire on July 20, this year.

The authorities of the Islamic Republic emphasize that they aim to engage in the dialogue but at the same time they point out that there are themes which they do not intend to discuss. IRI Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Arghchi stated Tuesday that an item concerning the dismantling of Iranian nuclear facilities "may not be on the agenda". Neither are the Iranians ready to discuss arms-related matters, which, in Tehran's view, is at variance with the purposes of the present negotiating round.

And still, despite all the difficulties, Araghchi believes, it is quite feasible to reach agreement by July 20. "Provided there is political will on the other side, we may reach final agreement earlier than within the six months," he said on Tuesday.

On the first day of the negotiating round, plenary meetings were held and a series of bilateral and multilateral contacts were made. The Iranian negotiating team held separate consultations with the delegations of the Sextet.

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