Iran’s top diplomat said planned talks on its nuclear program with six other governments this week likely will prove challenging, Reuters reports.
“This round of negotiations compared to the previous ones will be more serious and tougher,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in televised remarks on Sunday. “We do not expect to come to an agreement.”
The participants are seeking a long-term plan to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for concrete measures to ensure that the Middle Eastern nation’s atomic efforts are not geared toward development of a bomb capability. A potential comprehensive accord would succeed a six-month agreement reached in November by Iranian diplomats and counterparts from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
This week’s multilateral meeting in Vienna is expected to focus on Iran’s uranium-enrichment program and unfinished heavy-water reactor, which Washington and its allies consider possible paths toward producing nuclear-weapon fuel. Tehran insists it has no military ambitions for its nuclear activities.
A high-level U.S. official on Friday said the participating governments are looking to maintain almost “constant” communication in an effort to reach a deal, al-Monitor reported.
“These comprehensive negotiations will not [only] be done for three days a month by the political directors,” the insider stated in a background briefing with reporters.
Meanwhile, Iran said foreign suppliers had intentionally provided it with defective atomic components, the Associated Press reported on Monday. Personnel detected the problems before installing the equipment, Iranian Atomic Energy Organization insider Asghar Zarean said.
On Sunday, a U.S. government source said November’s nuclear accord has not slowed down Iran’s efforts to illicitly acquire atomic systems from abroad, Reuters reported.
“We continue to see them very actively setting up and operating through front companies, falsifying documentation [and] engaging in multiple levels of trans-shipment … to put more apparent distance between where the item originally came from and where it is ultimately going,” said Vann Van Diepen, U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of State for international security and nonproliferation.