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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US: Significant Gaps Face Resumption of Iran Nuclear Talks

by Scott Stearns June 16, 2014

Negotiations on limiting Iran's nuclear program are to resume Tuesday in Geneva.

A senior State Department official said 'significant gaps' remain between Iran and its U.S. and European counterparts in these talks, but there is broad agreement that limits on Iran's nuclear program can be agreed to before the talks' July deadline.

But even with a deal, fundamental changes in relations between the United States and Iran face what the State Department official calls Washington's 'great concerns' about Tehran's human rights abuses and acts of terrorism.

Some of the Obama administration's political opponents say these talks have already strengthened Iran.

'Even if we make it through this successfully, which I hope with every cell of my body we do, they're still going to be a major state-sponsor of terror, they are still going to supporting a brutal dictator in Syria, and there are going to still be tremendous human rights violators,' said Republican Senator Bob Corker.

American Enterprise Institute analyst Frederick Kagan said Iran's nuclear program, and its participation in these talks, are a means to broader ends. 'Iran's strategy in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon and Bahrain and Yemen and throughout the region has shown the enormous damage the Islamic Republic does by the methods that it uses to pursue its aims. Iran does not fill vacuums. Iran creates vacuums,' he said.

American University professor Hillary Mann Leverett said remaining differences in these Geneva talks include the scale of nuclear enrichment Iran will maintain under the deal, as well as the mechanism for lifting international sanctions.

'The Iranians, of course, want the United States to lift all sanctions as soon as a deal is concluded. And the U.S. side is looking at ways to keep sanctions in some way, to keep some of them, and the ones that we do in a sense lift not really lift, actually suspend and attach triggers for immediate reimposition with Iranian noncompliance.'

Center for Strategic and International Studies associate Scott Modell said easing sanctions enables Iran's regional ambitions. 'As it frees-up money for the Iranian government, it is only going to embolden Iran's threat network even further,' he stated.

Iran and the United States are both concerned about Syrian-based Sunni militants threatening the government in Iraq. Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Bill Burns is in Geneva for these nuclear talks. A senior State Department official said Burns may have discussions with Iranian officials about Iraq, but they would be 'completely and separately' removed from nuclear negotiations.

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