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Kerry aims to ‘accelerate’ Iran nuke talks

Kerry told reporters he will hold talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva

Published: Updated:

U.S. secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he hoped to speed up progress in the Iran nuclear talks during his Geneva meeting with his Iranian counterpart next week, Agence France-Presse reported.

Kerry told reporters he will hold talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva, hoping to “accelerate the process to make greater progress.”

“The meeting is calculated to take stock, number one, and to provide direction to our teams, number two, and to hopefully be able to accelerate the process to make greater progress,” Kerry was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Iran calls for greater Russian role

Meanwhile, Zarif said Monday that a more active role for Russia could speed up the nuclear talks.

“A more active Russian role is an important element in accelerating the final settlement of questions for a global nuclear agreement,” Zarif was quoted as saying on state media.

With a final deal at stake by a June 30 deadline, the talks have stalled on key issues.

With meetings between Iran and world powers to resume in Geneva on Wednesday, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was visiting Tehran, with both sides seeking a breakthrough.

Ryabkov, who heads up the Russian negotiating team under the P5+1 talks, said good ties between Tehran and Moscow can still help “a rapid settlement of nuclear relations relating to Iran.”

A third deadline is looming to reach a deal on reining in Iran’s suspect nuclear program by July 1.

Global powers leading the talks, known as the P5+1, are to meet again at a lower level from January 18 hoping to nail down the final thorniest issues to seal a deal.

Following an interim accord in November 2013, two deadlines for a final deal have been missed.

Under the interim deal, Iran’s stock of fissile material has been diluted from 20 percent enriched uranium to five percent in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

This would push back the “breakout capacity” to make an atomic weapon, which Iran denies pursuing.

Iran’s atomic agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi insisted Sunday on Tehran’s demands for increased uranium enrichment saying that within eight years the country would need 12 times more enriched uranium than at present.

Iran’s level of uranium enrichment -- the process that produces atomic fuel -- has been a key stumbling block in reaching a deal with the P5+1 powers (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany).

“We currently produce 2.5 tons but will need 30 tons eventually,” Salehi was quoted as saying by official news agency IRNA.

[With AFP and Reuters]