Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, Germany, France, China, and Russia) resume talks for a comprehensive nuclear agreement on Monday.
The two sides are holding a fifth round of discussions, seeking a resolution before the expiry of an interim Joint Plan of Agreement on July 20.
Monday’s talks will begin with a lunchtime session between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. After a break on Monday night — Iran is playing its opening match in football’s World Cup — the first plenary session will be held on Tuesday.
Both Iranian and US officials have indicated that they believe an extension of the Joint Plan is likely to allow more time for discussions; however, Iranian President Rouhani said on Saturday that he still hoped for an outcome by the deadline.
The leading point of contention appears to be the number and level of centrifuges for uranium enrichment that Iran is allowed to develop and operate.
The Islamic Republic wants to expand its current stock of about 19,000 centrifuges, about 9,000 of which are operational to enrich uranium to 5%. The US and European allies want the number sharply reduced, claiming that they could be assembled for a “break-out” to take uranium to 20% and then to more than 90%, needed for military use, within two months.
Other issues include the status of nuclear facilities such as the Arak heavy-water reactor, arrangements for inspections and supervision, and lifting of US-led sanctions.
Iran held bilateral talks with the US, France, and Russia last week before concluding the round with discussions with German officials in Tehran on Sunday.
Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan in Iran for Talks
The Prime Minister of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, is in Iran for discussions.
Barzani will meet the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Admiral Ali Shamkhani.
“Senior Official” Says US Preparing for Direct Talks With Iran
A “senior official” said on Sunday that the US is preparing to open direct talks with Iran about steps against the insurgency in Iraq.
US officials said they were not certain which diplomatic channel would be used; however, the approach could be on the sidelines of nuclear talks which resume on Monday in Monday.
Meanwhile, in the latest sign of a split within the regime over how to handle the US and the Iraq crisis, the commander of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, repeated the line that attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham are part of a US plot.
“Today the enemy has targeted us in multiple soft-war fronts, because it knows that it cannot combat us in a battlefield,” Naqdi declared.
At least one high-level official within the Rouhani Government has said that Iran wants to work with the US to check the Iraqi insurgency; however, that appears to have been rejected with statements blaming Washington for ISIS and the offensives moving from northern Iraq towards Baghdad.
Those making the allegation include Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani — often used as an outlet for the Supreme Leader’s view on foreign and security policy — and the Secretary of the National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani.
By EA WorldView
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