Iran Says Kerry-Zarif Nuclear Talks Find No Answer to “Key Questions”

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US Secretary of State John Kerry rubs his face after he goes for a stroll on the shore of Lake Geneva upon his arrival on February 22, 2015 in Geneva. AFP/Fabrice Coffrini.

Published Monday, February 23, 2015

A senior Iranian official in international talks on the country's nuclear program said differences remained on key questions, state media reported on Monday.

"The gap still exists, differences exist, and all parties are negotiating with seriousness and determination, but we haven't found solutions to key questions," Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said of the ongoing negotiations in Geneva.

He was speaking after three hours of talks on Sunday night between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and their Iranian counterparts Mohammed Javad Zarif and Ali Akbar Salehi.

The US and Iranian officials began their talks on Friday.

Parallel negotiations were held on Sunday between Tehran and senior negotiators from the so-called P5+1 group — UN Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany.

"In many areas, the negotiations have addressed the details... In some cases, solutions were found and the time has come for political decisions," Araghchi said, quoted by state television.

"For this reason, contacts at the highest level between the two parties are needed," he added.

Kerry and Zarif held a second day of discussions on Monday as the clock ticks down to a March 31 target for a framework accord.

Their meetings were a bid to smooth the way towards a long-elusive nuclear deal that would assure Western powers that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful in return for an easing of punishing international economic sanctions.

Iran denies its nuclear program has military objectives.

"Today, no one can pretend that Iran's nuclear program is not peaceful," President Hassan Rouhani told science ministers from Non-Aligned Movement nations gathered in Tehran on Monday.

"The Iranian people have suffered the worst pressure during the past dozen years for having sought to realize their rights in the fields of science and nuclear technology," he said in remarks posted on the government's website.

A key stumbling block in any final deal between Iran and world powers is thought to be the amount of uranium Tehran would be allowed to enrich, and the number and type of centrifuges it can retain.

Russian missiles

Meanwhile, Russia offered Iran advanced surface-to-air missiles after scrapping a similar deal in 2010 because of UN sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program, the Russian state defense company said on Monday.

Any such a deal is likely to go down badly in Washington as Western countries seek to keep up the pressure on Iran to agree a comprehensive deal on its nuclear activities.

Sergei Chemezov, head of the Rostec corporation which manages Russia's defense industry, said Moscow has offered to supply Antey-2500 missiles, an upgraded version of the S-300 air defense system that figured in the previous contract.

"We have offered them the Antey-2500," Chemezov was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti news agency.

But he added: "The decision has not been made yet."

Moscow signed a contract in 2007 to deliver S-300 missiles to Iran worth $800 million.

The deal was intensely criticized by the United States and Israel, and Moscow later dropped it as being in breach of UN sanctions.

A UN resolution adopted in 2010 bans the supply, sale or transfer to Iran of missiles or missiles systems.

Chemezov said the Antey-2500 is a more modern version of the S-300, which Russia no longer makes. The same surface-to-air missiles were reportedly delivered to Venezuela in 2013.

Now under Western sanctions itself over the conflict in Ukraine, Russia — a permanent member of the UN Security Council — has strengthened its alliance with Iran.

During a visit to Tehran by Russia's defense minister last month, the two countries signed a military cooperation agreement touted as a joint response to US "interference."

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

Sorry but I do not believe this story.
It is no reflection on this news outlet or the author of this article.
We are all being misled & to effect.

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