Key Nuclear Negotiator to Travel to Iran on Saturday

Global Security Newswire Staff
March 4, 2014, 9:06 a.m.

A top rep­res­ent­at­ive for six coun­tries in nuc­le­ar talks with Ir­an plans to travel to the Middle East­ern na­tion on Sat­urday, Ir­a­ni­an state me­dia re­ports.

European Uni­on for­eign policy chief Cath­er­ine Ashton’s trip to the Per­sian Gulf re­gion­al power would in­clude meet­ings with Ir­a­ni­an Pres­id­ent Has­san Rouh­ani, For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­hammad Javad Za­rif and oth­er high-level per­son­nel, Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Ab­bas Araq­chi stated in com­ments re­por­ted by the Is­lam­ic Re­pub­lic News Agency.

Ashton has rep­res­en­ted the five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­ber na­tions and Ger­many in ne­go­ti­ations aimed at elim­in­at­ing fears that Ir­an is secretly pur­su­ing a nuc­le­ar-arms cap­ab­il­ity. Her vis­it would be the first to the Middle East­ern by any top EU dip­lo­mat since 2008, and would take place about two weeks after the “P-5+1” na­tions and Tehran fi­nal­ized an agenda for five months of dis­cus­sions aimed at de­fus­ing the stan­doff.

Her vis­it could fall between atom­ic dis­cus­sions between lower-rank­ing tech­nic­al spe­cial­ists from each side and an­oth­er high-level polit­ic­al meet­ing, which is sched­uled to start on March 17. Both gath­er­ings would take place in Vi­enna.

Araq­chi said the ex­pert-level ex­change is sched­uled to be­gin on Wed­nes­day and con­tin­ue un­til at least Fri­day or Sat­urday. He ad­ded that the ses­sion would fo­cus on a long­stand­ing dis­pute over Ir­an’s urani­um-en­rich­ment op­er­a­tions, as well as glob­al con­cerns about the na­tion’s un­fin­ished Arak heavy-wa­ter re­act­or.

Wash­ing­ton and its al­lies strongly sus­pect Ir­an is pur­su­ing both pro­jects as po­ten­tial means to pro­duce fuel for nuc­le­ar war­heads, should it ever de­cide to do so. Tehran, though, has main­tained over the years that its atom­ic activ­it­ies are geared strictly to­ward non­mil­it­ary en­deavors.

Mean­while, an Ir­a­ni­an le­gis­lat­or said his na­tion plans in com­ing weeks to be­gin build­ing a “second nuc­le­ar power plant” in Bushehr province, the state-run Fars News Agency re­por­ted.

An Ir­a­ni­an dip­lo­mat last month sug­ges­ted Rus­sia could ac­cept oil from Tehran in ex­change for con­struct­ing a second re­act­or at Ir­an’s atom­ic-en­ergy fa­cil­ity loc­ated near the Bushehr pro­vin­cial cap­it­al.

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