Iran, World Powers to Embark on Fresh Round of N. Talks Tomorrow

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Nuclear negotiators representing Iran and the six major world powers are geared up to hold yet another round of marathon talks over Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program in the Austrian capital as early as Tuesday.

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Austria's capital of Vienna, home to one of the four headquarters of the United Nations, will once again host nuclear negotiators representing Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, the US, Britain, China, France and Germany) on Tuesday.

The two sides have already held several rounds of talks with the aim of putting an end to the decade-long standoff on the Islamic Republic’s peaceful nuclear case.

Iran and the G5+1 (alternatively known as P5+1 or E3+3) have on November 24, 2013, clinched an interim six-month deal on Tehran’s nuclear program in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The breakthrough deal (the Joint Plan of Action), which has come into effect since January 20, stipulates that over the course of six months, Iran and the six countries will draw up a comprehensive nuclear deal which will lead to a lifting of the whole sanctions on Iran.

Following the Geneva deal, they convened another meeting in Vienna from February 18 to 20 in order to discuss the priorities for the future negotiations and work out a framework for an ultimate and comprehensive agreement.

Afterwards, the Austrian city once again brought delegates from the negotiating parties together from March 5-7, albeit for a series of expert-level talks.

And now, the two sides are preparing to launch a new round of talks in the presence of the high-profile political directors tomorrow.

Iranians will be led by the country’s top negotiator and foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, whereas the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is scheduled to liaise with Iran on behalf of the six countries, like the past.

Zarif, heading the Iranian team, left Tehran for Vienna earlier today, and is expected to attend a dinner banquet with EU’s Ashton tonight.

The negotiations will kick off tomorrow morning, and are expected to extend into Wednesday, March 19.

In comments ahead of the new round, Zarif said on Sunday that the deputies are tasked with pushing ahead with the talks under the supervision of the political leaders.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Seyed Abbas Araqchi is scheduled to represent Iran in the deputy-level talks, while EU Deputy Foreign Policy Chief Helga Schmid will be in contact with Araqchi on behalf of the other side.

Elsewhere in his remarks on Sunday, Zarif described it as “unlikely” that foreign ministers of the other participating countries would attend the Vienna talks.

The top Iranian negotiator, however, made it clear that the forthcoming negotiations are going to be harder than the previous rounds and inclusive of more detailed issues.

“Naturally, as the negotiations move forward, they become more painstaking, more serious and more difficult. This round of talks will be harder in comparison with the previous round, and more details will be discussed,” he noted.

Zarif also played down expectations that the negotiating parties could reach a possible agreement in the forthcoming round, noting that they have not even had any plan to strike such a deal at this point.

“We have agreed to discuss a number of topics, including the aspects of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, particularly the issue of (uranium) enrichment, heavy water, as well as the international cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy sphere, their (westerners’) commitments within the framework of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and removal of the (anti-Iran) sanctions,” Zarif explained.

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