Iran, U.N. Powers Finalize Agenda for Nuclear Negotiations

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 20, 2014, 5:19 a.m.

Ir­an and six oth­er coun­tries hammered out plans for dis­cuss­ing how they might de­fuse a long-run­ning atom­ic stan­doff, the Wall Street Journ­al re­ports.

European Uni­on for­eign policy chief Cath­er­ine Ashton an­nounced the de­vel­op­ment on Thursday, the last of three days of ini­tial talks on a long-term pact between Tehran and the five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­ber na­tions and Ger­many. She  — and said the sides have made ar­range­ments for a March 17-20 meet­ing in Vi­enna.

The ne­go­ti­at­ing parties are to hold a high-level gath­er­ing roughly once each month for four months, with a Ju­ly goal for fi­nal­iz­ing a long-term res­ol­u­tion to dis­putes on Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, a West­ern en­voy said. Wash­ing­ton and its al­lies want to ad­dress con­cerns that Ir­an’s atom­ic as­sets could sup­port nuc­le­ar-weapons de­vel­op­ment, and Tehran is push­ing to elim­in­ate sanc­tions that have in­creas­ingly crimped the Ir­a­ni­an eco­nomy. The Middle East­ern power main­tains it has no atom­ic-arms as­pir­a­tions.

A high-level U.S. gov­ern­ment in­sider said that “every is­sue of con­cern to us is on the table,” in­clud­ing Ir­an’s bal­list­ic-mis­sile ef­forts, as well as in­dic­a­tions that the na­tion once con­duc­ted stud­ies that could help it weapon­ize its nuc­le­ar pro­gram, the New York Times re­por­ted.

Ashton, who has rep­res­en­ted the “P-5+1” na­tions in the talks, said next month’s seni­or-level meet­ing would be pre­ceded by a gath­er­ing of “tech­nic­al ex­perts” from the ne­go­ti­at­ing gov­ern­ments, Agence France-Presse re­por­ted.

“We have … iden­ti­fied all of the is­sues we need to ad­dress for a com­pre­hens­ive and fi­nal agree­ment,” the As­so­ci­ated Press quoted her as say­ing. “It won’t be easy, but we’ve got­ten off to a good start.”

One West­ern dip­lo­mat ad­ded that Ashton is ex­pec­ted to dis­cuss the next round of planned ne­go­ti­ations dur­ing a March 9-10 vis­it to the Ir­a­ni­an cap­it­al.

Mean­while, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s top Ir­an ne­go­ti­at­or plans to dis­cuss the dia­logue with of­fi­cials in Is­rael, Saudi Ar­a­bia and the United Ar­ab Emir­ates, the State De­part­ment said on Thursday. U.S. Un­der Sec­ret­ary of State Wendy Sher­man is ex­pec­ted to lead the meet­ings over a five-day peri­od, be­gin­ning on Fri­day.

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