Foreign ministers gather in Geneva for Iran nuclear talks : worldleaks
The foreign ministers of six major powers are assembling in Geneva to manage a nuclear deal with Iran.
The Russian and Iranian envoys, who are already in Geneva, are being joined by their counterparts from the US, the UK, France, China and Germany. They have joined the conference amid hopes for an agreement which would see Iran curb its uranium improvement in return for a loosening of sanctions.
Some US lawmakers say they will push for more sanctions if the talks fail.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but some world powers suspect it is searching a nuclear weapons capability.
Negotiators have been working since Wednesday to try to find an agreement which is acceptable to Iran and the P5+1 negotiating partners – the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.
The talks had been planned to conclude on Friday, but were extended amid hopes of a possible breakthrough, prompting the P5+1 foreign ministers to declare their attendance in person.
State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Mr Kerry would came to Geneva early on Saturday, “with the goal of continuing to help narrow the differences and move closer to an agreement”.
Mr Kerry’s participation in itself does not prove a deal is at hand, but it does show that the talks may have reached a critical stage.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague will also arrive on Saturday, as will his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius.
France has taken a harder line on Iran than other Western powers, encouraging its negotiating partners not to make too many compromises.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will also attend, said officials, while China said its foreign minister, Wang Yi, had left for Geneva early on Saturday.
EU foreign policy chief Baroness Catherine Ashton is leading the conference.
On Friday she briefly met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif for a conversation which Iran’s official Irna news agency described as “complicated and tough”.
The Geneva meeting follows a previous round of talks earlier this month.
On that occasion, too, foreign ministers flew to Geneva to conclude the negotiations, but they went home empty-handed.
Analysts say a major sticking point is Iran’s insistence on its right to enrich uranium – a process that yields material used to manufacture fuel for power stations, but can also be used to make weapons.
Western diplomats are also related about a reactor Iran is building at Arak – an issue which disrupted the first round of talks.
The fate of Iran’s heavy-water plant at Arak is one of the issues to be resolved
US politicians have pointed they will push forward with a bill proposing more sanctions against Iran next month if the talks fail.
US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would support “broadening the scope” of current oil and trade sanctions.
President Barack Obama’s administration has said any interim agreement would see the bulk of international and US sanctions directing Iran’s nuclear programme remain in place, but that Iran would get sanctions relief worth between $6bn and $7bn.
The essence of the deal would involve Iran making no more advances in its nuclear programme and agreeing to “more vigorous inspections”, he said.
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