Political Directors at Next P5+1 Talks

Political Directors  at Next P5+1 Talks Political Directors  at Next P5+1 Talks

A regular round of talks between Iran and the six international negotiators on Tehran's nuclear program will be held at the level of political directors on January 15 in Geneva, the Russian news agency TASS quoted an unnamed Iranian diplomatic source as saying on Monday.  

Russia will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. The source said the meeting will last one day. The previous round took place on December 17 in Geneva.       

Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) agreed in November to extend the deadline for a final agreement to resolve the long-running dispute over Tehran’s nuclear work until June 30.

Iran says it needs nuclear energy for peaceful applications, such as electricity generation, but western powers led by the United States claim Iran may be seeking to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons.

Republicans and some Democrats at the US Congress have pushed for sanctions to get Iran to agree to a deal that would halt its alleged pursuit of the capability to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies its nuclear program may have any military objectives.

Kirk said Senate Republicans might have enough Democratic support to pass veto-proof legislation on more sanctions.

"The good thing about those votes, they will be really bipartisan votes," he said. "I have 17 Democrats with me. … We have a shot at even getting to a veto-proof majority in the Senate. That's what we'll be working on, a good bipartisan vote."

Senator Lindsey Graham had earlier said the Senate would take up an Iran sanctions bill in January.  He said there would be a vote on legislation drafted by Senators Bob Menendez and Mark Kirk in January. The measure would impose additional sanctions on Iran if it violates the interim nuclear agreement it signed with the major powers in November 2013 or walks away from talks.

On the reports that the US and Iran have agreed on a formula that requires Iran to transfer some its nuclear materials to Russia, Psaki said, "Well, I don't have any comment one way or another on the reports about details of the negotiations. I would also point you to the fact that I think that’s been denied by both sides, so – or at least by the Iranian side."

The Associated Press on Friday quoted unnamed diplomats as claiming that Iran and the United States have tentatively agreed on a formula that Washington hopes will reduce Tehran's ability to make material for nuclear arms if it decides so by committing it to ship to Russia much of its enriched uranium. The two diplomats also told the AP that negotiators at the December round of nuclear talks drew up for the first time a catalog outlining areas of potential accord and differing approaches to remaining disputes. They said the newly created catalog lists shipping out much of the material as tentatively agreed upon. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marzieh Afkham denied the report on Saturday, saying, "No agreement has been reached on any issue that is under discussion in the nuclear negotiations."

"Such media hype is politically motivated, and the main purpose of such a move is to spoil the atmosphere of the talks and make it more difficult to resolve the issues," she said.


  New Sanctions Unproductive

During a press briefing on Monday, the US State Department spokesperson said the imposition of new sanctions on Iran while the talks on a final nuclear accord are underway is an unproductive move.

In response to the reports that Republican senators are going to push through new Iran sanctions, Jen Psaki said, “Our position hasn’t changed. We obviously don’t think that would be productive or the right step. We want to give the negotiators room to have the negotiations. That remains our position.”

Republican Senator Mark Kirk said late last month that the upper chamber upon returning to work this week under GOP control would likely make imposing new sanctions on Iran a top priority.

Kirk said, “(Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) has said the second big vote (after a vote on the Keystone pipeline) will be on Iran sanctions so I would expect that coming up.”