Second day of Iranian nuclear talks begin in Vienna
Iran and the six major world powers are set to start the second day of their fresh talks as part of efforts to reach a permanent agreement on Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - China, Russia, Britain, France and the United States - plus Germany held two sessions of talks at the United Nations office in the Austrian capital, Vienna on Tuesday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who represents the six world powers in the nuclear talks, presided over the first session of Tuesday talks.
Prior to the negotiations, the Iranian foreign minister held separate meetings with representatives from Russia and China. Zarif also met with Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz as well as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano.
The second session of the talks was chaired by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi and Helga Schmid, a top aide to the EU foreign policy chief, with deputy foreign ministers of the Sextet of world powers in attendance.
Ahead of the meeting, the Iranian diplomat met with representatives of Germany, Britain and France. Araqchi also held a bilateral meeting with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.
The talks mark the first round of high-level negotiations held between Tehran and the Sextet of world powers after they clinched a landmark interim deal in the Swiss city of Geneva on November 24, 2013.
Under the deal, dubbed the Geneva Joint Plan of Action, the six countries undertook to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities during a six-month period. It was also agreed that no nuclear-related sanctions will be imposed on Iran within the same timeframe. The agreement took effect on January 20.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Araqchi said Iran has never stopped its peaceful nuclear activities and will not do so in future.
“To us, what has been announced as dismantling Iran’s [nuclear] program and facilities is not on the agenda,” Araqchi added, stressing that the new round of talks are geared toward reaching a “comprehensive and final” solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.