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Iran: Talks with West Are Making 'Slow Progress'

Technical talks between Iran and world powers are making progress but slowly, says Iranian deputy foreign minister.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/22/2013, 4:14 AM

Bushehr nuclear power plant
Bushehr nuclear power plant
AFP photo

Technical talks between Iran and world powers on how to implement a landmark nuclear deal clinched last month are making progress but slowly, a senior Iranian negotiator said Saturday, according to AFP.

The negotiations resumed on Thursday in Geneva on the accord that is aimed at buying time for a diplomatic solution to a decade-long standoff over Iran's nuclear drive.

Discussions on the details of last month's breakthrough accord were interrupted by Iranian diplomats after a decision by the United States to blacklist 19 more Iranian companies and individuals, which the Iranians claimed was in violation of the Geneva deal.

"The talks that extended to a third day are making progress but slowly," deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted by AFP as having told a state-run television network in Tehran.

Araqchi did not give any other details.

The official IRNA news agency cited him as saying the negotiations could stretch into a fourth day on Sunday.

Iran agreed to resume the talks after saying it was given an "assurance" by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the six powers, that the talks would continue in good faith.

Under the deal struck on November 24, Iran agreed to roll back or freeze parts of its nuclear drive for six months in exchange for modest sanctions relief and a promise by Western powers not to impose new sanctions.

During this period, which has not yet begun, Iran and world powers will seek to hammer out a long-term comprehensive accord to allay suspicions that Tehran's nuclear activities mask a military objective.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif has said his country will keep talking with world powers on its disputed nuclear program despite the latest U.S. blacklist. He expressed Iran's "discontent" over the American move in a recent phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Washington said last week that the new measures did not constitute new sanctions, which the West agreed not to impose as part of the Geneva deal, but were rather part of the previous sanctions regime.

Senators in the United States, suspicious of Iran’s nuclear program despite the deal, have continued to promote legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran. In response, President Barack Obama last week threatened to veto any such legislation.