Trilateral Zarif-Ashton-Burns meeting ends

Photo: Trilateral Zarif-Ashton-Burns meeting ends / Nuclear Program

The first trilateral meeting among heads of Iranian, EU and US delegations to Vienna 6 nuclear negotiations which had started at 6 pm, Wednesday in Viennaˈs Koburg Hotel ended after about an hour of consultations, IRNA reported.

According to the IRNA correspondent in Vienna, the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif had earlier in the first day of Vienna 6 nuclear negotiations between Iran and the so-called 5+1G ( also known as the E3+3 - comprised of the UN big 5 countries and Germany) had a bilateral meeting with the EU foreign policy chief Baroness Catherine Ashton.

The two diplomats had in that meeting decided over the general structure of this sensitive round of talks that can potentially lead to the signing of a historical comprehensive agreement to ensure the world about the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program on Iranˈs side and the full lifting of the anti-Iranian sanctions on the other side.

The official opening session of the Vienna 6 nuclear negotiations is scheduled for Thursday morning though, in the European headquarters of the United Nations.

After the opening session the seven participating courtiersˈ delegations will start their talks aimed at completing the comprehensive agreement that they began drafting during the Vienna 5 talks.

The Iranian top diplomat said right after his arrival in Vienna airport said that if the western side will show its political will for achieving a final agreement they will find out that Tehran, too, is ready for reaching such an agreement, but if we will be faced with totalitarian, never-ending illogical demands we will by no means yield to imposing and defend our nationˈs rights.

The talks could potentially last until July 20 when an interim deal from November expires, although this could be extended by up to six months.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, in the Washington Post, said that the negotiations on what would be a fiendishly complex deal constituted "a choice for Iranˈs leaders".

"They can agree to the steps necessary to assure the world that their countryˈs nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful... Or they can squander a historic opportunity", Kerry wrote.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that with differences "significant", a deal was "far from certain". Iran needs to be "realistic" about the steps it needs to take, he said.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, writing in French daily Le Monde, said that some among the P5+1 were suffering from "illusions" about Iranˈs nuclear program.

He said that contrary to fears in the West, Iran - even if it wanted to - is "several years and not a few months" away from being able to build an atomic bomb.

Demands that Iranˈs program be "radically curbed" rest on a "gross misrepresentation of the steps, time and dangers of a dash for the bomb", Zarif said.

"We are willing to provide assurances of the exclusively peaceful nature of our nuclear program. But we will not abandon or make a mockery of our technological advances or our scientists," he said.

In a video message Zarif said the talks represented a "unique opportunity to make history".

"We are trying to reach a deal," he added. "Not a good deal or a bad deal, but a doable and lasting deal."

Iranian nuclear negotiator Majid Takhte Ravanchi told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) that Iran has set out clear "red lines".

"The other side knows that these red lines cannot be crossed. If we reach a deal it will be one respecting these red lines. If not there will be no accord," he said.

One such position is thought to be on the key central issue of enrichment, the process rendering uranium suitable for power generation.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said last month Iran has to slash the number of centrifuge enrichment machines to several hundred from the almost 20,000 at present.

"We will not accept definitive restrictions" on our nuclear program, Ravanchi said.

But Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association analyst, was upbeat, saying there is "considerable political will" for a deal since it is in the interests of both sides.

"There is a lot of time left for diplomacy and a good comprehensive nuclear agreement is within reach, despite significant gaps between the two sides on core issues," she told AFP.

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