Russia ‘worried’ over Iran nuclear talks slowdown

Russia’s negotiator Sergei Ryabkov warned of the ‘slow’ rate of progress as the Iran nuclear talks deadline on June 30 nears

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Russia is “very worried” over the slowdown in progress in nuclear talks between Iran and six major powers ahead of a June 30 deadline to finalize a historic accord, its negotiator said Friday.

“The rate of progress ... is progressively slowing down,” Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti as he arrived for the latest round of talks in Vienna.

He added: “This is very worrying to us because there is very little time before the deadline and we urgently need to enter the final stage.”

Meanwhile, Russian news agency TASS quoted a diplomatic source as saying on Friday that nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers have virtually stalled and a deadline for a final deal may have to be postponed again,

“The process has virtually stalled, there is risk that deadline will have to be postponed again,” TASS said the source added.

Iran and the powers -- the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany -- are trying to reach a settlement by June 30 under which Iran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

In April, Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany agreed to the outlines of a deal aimed at ending the decade-old standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

According to this framework, due to be finalized by June 30, Iran will dramatically scale down its nuclear activities in order to render any dash to making nuclear weapons all but impossible.

In return, Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, will see painful sanctions lifted by the six powers.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Jeffrey Rathke Friday admitted the talks were proving “complicated,” but nonetheless said the United States believes a deal can still be reached by June 30.

“We remain of the view that it’s possible to reach – to conclude the talks by June 30th. That remains our focus,” Rathke told reporters.

Seen as something of a hawk in the talks, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday that the issue of tighter U.N. inspections of Iran’s remaining facilities after the mooted deal was not yet sewn up.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was fully engaged in the Iran nuclear negotiations and would join them at the end of June as he left the hospital after treatment for a broken leg.

Kerry, 71, broke his right femur on May 31 while cycling a portion of the Tour de France route in the Haute Savoie region of France, raising questions about how deeply he may be able to be involved in the talks before a self-imposed June 30 deadline.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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