The March 5-7 meeting at the United Nations complex in Vienna is
to prepare for the next round of political negotiations on the issue
later this month, also in the Austrian capital.
Seeking to build on an interim agreement reached late last year in
Geneva, Iran and the major powers aim to hammer out a final
settlement of the decade-old dispute over Tehran's atomic activities
by late July.
Both sides have made clear their political will to reach a long-term
accord and have scheduled a series of meetings in coming months. But
they also acknowledge that there are still big differences over the
future scope of Iran's nuclear program and that success is far from
Officials said experts from Russia were taking part in this week's
meeting in Vienna, suggesting there was no immediate fallout on the
nuclear negotiations from the crisis in Ukraine.
"The talks are very serious and substantive and useful," the head of
the Iranian delegation at the expert-level talks, senior Foreign
Ministry official Hamid Baidinejad told Iran's Fars News Agency.
Western officials want Iran to significantly scale back its uranium
enrichment activities to ensure that it would be unable to build an
atomic bomb quickly if it ever decided to do so.
Iran denies allegations that it is seeking the technical know-how
and means to assemble nuclear weapons and says it will not shut any
of its nuclear sites, which include the uranium enrichment plants at
Natanz and Fordow and a planned heavy water reactor at Arak.
Iran wants Western and U.N. sanctions that are severely hurting its
oil-dependent economy lifted, having won limited relief in exchange
for curbing its most sensitive nuclear work under the six-month
Geneva agreement, which took effect on January 20.
[to top of second column]
Uranium can be used to fuel a planned network of nuclear power
plants, which is Iran's stated goal, but also provide fuel for bombs
if processed to a high fissile concentration, which the West fears
may be Iran's ultimate aim.
A senior diplomat from one of the big powers said there had been "no
suggestion by anyone" that the crisis would impede discussions on
Iran or other issues such as Syria where the United States and
Europe are trying to cooperate with Russia.
Chief negotiators from Iran and the powers — the United States,
France, Russia, Britain, Germany and China — are to begin their next
round of negotiations on March 18 in Vienna. The meeting is expected
to last two to three days.
(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Ankara; Fredrik Dahl in Vienna, Lou
Charbonneau at the United Nations in New York; writing by Fredrik
Dahl; editing by Kevin Liffey)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.