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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Nuclear Talks to Continue a Second Day

by VOA News November 09, 2014

Talks between Iran, the United States and the European Union were extended for a second day as a deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement approaches.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held face-to-face talks in Oman Sunday along with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The first round of talks took place Sunday morning with a break for lunch and consultations before resuming again in the early evening.

Kerry, Zarif and Ashton will sit down for more talks in Oman in Monday. The talks are expected to continue on Tuesday at the political directors' level.

Negotiators are working against a November 24 deadline to balance Iran's desires to enrich uranium for fuel and Western concerns that Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons.

Speaking before departing Beijing on Saturday, Kerry said there are 'real gaps' in talks to reach an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.

He also stressed that the nuclear negotiations are separate from other issues, including possible cooperation with Iran in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Western sanctions

Zarif, who spoke ahead of Sunday's meeting, said sanctions imposed by the West will not provide a solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

'It is important for the West to understand that sanctions have never contributed to the resolution of this issue, sanctions are not a part of a solution, sanctions are the most important part of the problem, they're illegal in nature, they must be removed, they have not produced any positive result,' Zarif said. 'The only thing that sanctions have produced for the West are about 19,000 centrifuges.'

Zarif said the disagreements that remain are how much uranium Iran can enrich and how the sanctions should be lifted.

Speaking on the CBS program Face the Nation, U.S. President Barack Obama questioned whether the negotiators and Iran would be able to bridge their remaining differences.

"Are we going to be able to close this final gap so that they can re-enter the international community, sanctions can be slowly reduced, and we have verifiable lock-tight assurances that they can't develop a nuclear weapon?' Obama said. 'There's still a big gap. We may not be able to get there."

The P5 plus 1 - the permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany - wants Iran to curb its uranium enrichment abilities to keep it from being able to build a nuclear bomb. In exchange, the U.N. would lift economic sanctions.

Iran has consistently denied wanting to build nuclear weapons.

Pam Dockins contributed to this article from Muscat, Oman.

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