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U.S. and Iran in Vienna to continue talks on nuclear program interim agreement

The U.S. and the countries of P5+1 opened meetings today with Iran in Vienna, announced Reuters. The previous nearly impossible mission to sit down and reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program achieved its first steps last November with an interim deal set between Iran and the U.S. along with its partners: UK, France, China and Russia and Germany.

Talks in Vienna this week are being chaired by the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

The morning had a difficult start. Senior U.S. and Iranian officials met separately for nearly 90 minutes on the sidelines of the negotiations in Vienna. Details were not given, but prior to the election of Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, as president of Iran; there were no exchanges or any attempt at a breakthrough to limit the nuclear program in Iran with meetings such as today.

‘We're only at the very beginning of this process,’ a diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity after U.S. meeting with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.

Sherman headed the U.S. delegation, while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Araqchi led Tehran's negotiating team at the table with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

The difficulty in the road to a successful nuclear agreement face difficulty from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man with the final say on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, declared again on Monday that talks between Tehran and six world powers ‘will not lead anywhere.’

Since the first interim agreement last Nov. 24, Tehran has curbed some nuclear activities for six months in return for some limited relief from sanctions in order to allow a long-term deal to be set and implemented.

The terms of the Nov. interim deal are for Iran to: halt production of near-20% enriched uranium, which could be further enriched to weapons-grade relatively quickly; dilute half of its stockpile; commit not to commission or fuel the Arak heavy-water reactor, from where spent fuel plutonium could be extracted; and submit to daily inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In return, the P5+1 have eased sanctions on trade in petrochemicals, precious metals and on the provision of insurance for oil shipments. It has also committed to give Iran access to $4.2 billion of oil revenue frozen in foreign banks at monthly intervals.

A successful permanent deal would defuse the hostility between the West and Iran while easing other tension and difficulties in the Middle East. A peaceful environment would increase business activity instead of war relations.

To view more on the path to the Iran interim deal see the articles below in Author’s suggestions and the video atop this article on U.S. statement of easing sanctions upon Iran.

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