Iranian FM lowers expectations ahead of nuclear talks with world powers

Javad Zarif: Another meeting will be required to make progress.

Kerry and Zarif meet in NY 150 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Kerry and Zarif meet in NY 150
(photo credit: REUTERS)
DUBAI - Iranian Foreign Minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced hope that Tehran and world powers can agree in talks this week on a road map towards resolving their nuclear stand-off, but warned the process would be complex.
The negotiations about Iran's nuclear program, to start in Geneva on Tuesday, will be the first since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who wants to thaw Iran's icy relations with the West to get harsh economic sanctions removed.
"Tomorrow is the start of a difficult and relatively time-consuming way forward. I am hopeful that by Wednesday we can reach an agreement on a road map to find a path towards resolution," Zarif said in a message posted on his Facebook account late on Sunday.
"But even with the goodwill of the other side, to reach agreement on details and start implementation will likely require another meeting at ministerial level."
Western nations believe Iran's uranium enrichment program is an attempt to achieve a nuclear weapons capability, a charge Tehran denies, saying it only wants the master the technology to generate electricity and carry out medical research.
Rouhani's election in June to succeed conservative hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised hopes of a negotiated solution to a decade-old dispute over the program that could otherwise trigger a new war in the volatile Middle East.
Zarif's deputy, Abbas Araqchi, on Sunday rebuffed the West's demand that Iran send sensitive nuclear material out of the country but signaled flexibility on other aspects of its atomic activities that worry world powers.
Middle East analyst Cliff Kupchan of risk consultancy Eurasia group in an analysis expressed his views on the unlikely deal between Iran and the US, saying "we continue to believe that while there is a significant chance of a deal by the end of the second quarter of 2014, an agreement on balance remains improbable.
"Iran will likely offer a new proposal in which it sets out a road map, possibly including concessions on medium-enriched uranium in return for sanctions relief," he said. "The US will agree to study the proposal but probably insist on more severe near-term constraints on Iran's nuclear program."
On Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), that he was hopeful that the “window for diplomacy is cracking open with Iran.”
However Kerry was quick to reassure the group of the importance the US places on Israel's security.
“But I want you to know that our eyes are open, too. While we seek a peaceful resolution to Iran’s nuclear program, words must be matched with actions,” Kerry said. “In any engagement with Iran, we are mindful of Israel’s security needs.”