Iran Minimizes Expectations for Nuclear Talks Round

March 17, 2014, 6:11 a.m.

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.

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