U.S., Iran to talk about nuclear program
Discussions next week in Geneva
The United States said it will hold direct talks with Iran next week over the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear program.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will lead a U.S. delegation set to meet with Iranian officials tomorrow and Tuesday in Geneva, a State Department official said.
The talks will take place a week before six world powers including Russia and the U.S. are scheduled to convene for another round of negotiations with Iran in Vienna in an effort to seek a comprehensive agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program and remove sanctions.
An interim accord reached Nov. 24 that involved limited nuclear concessions by Iran in exchange for some relief from international sanctions will expire July 20. The two sides are seeking either a comprehensive agreement or an extension before that deadline.
While the U.S. and its allies say the Iranian government is developing a weapons program, Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful purposes, including energy and medical research.
The U.S. sees a need to engage in as much active diplomacy as possible to test whether a diplomatic solution is possible with Iran on its nuclear program, said an administration official who declined to be identified in line with protocol.
The last round of talks, this official said, raised questions about the intentions of Iran’s top leaders and how much leeway the country’s negotiators, and even its president, have been given amid evidence that some powerful figures in Iran’s clerical elite and Revolutionary Guard Corps want the nuclear weapons program, which Iran denies is for military purposes, to continue.