Iran hopeful Geneva talks can lead to "nuclear roadmap"

Reuters

DUBAI, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister and chiefnuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced hope Tehran andworld powers can agree in talks this week on a road map towardsresolving their nuclear stand-off, but warned the process wouldbe complex.

The negotiations about Iran's nuclear programme, to start inGeneva on Tuesday, will be the first since the election ofPresident Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who wants to thawIran's icy relations with the West to get harsh economicsanctions removed.

"Tomorrow is the start of a difficult and relativelytime-consuming way forward. I am hopeful that by Wednesday wecan reach agreement on a road map to find a path towardsresolution," Zarif said in a message posted on his Facebookaccount late on Sunday.

"But even with the goodwill of the other side, to reachagreement on details and start implementation will likelyrequire another meeting at ministerial level."

Western nations believe Iran's uranium enrichment programmeis an attempt to achieve a nuclear weapons capability, a chargeTehran denies, saying it only wants the master the technology togenerate electricity and carry out medical research.

Rouhani's election in June to succeed conservative hardlinerMahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised hopes of a negotiated solution toa decade-old dispute over the programme that could otherwisetrigger a new war in the volatile Middle East.

Zarif's deputy, Abbas Araqchi, on Sunday rebuffed the West'sdemand that Iran send sensitive nuclear material out of thecountry but signalled flexibility on other aspects of its atomicactivities that worry world powers.

Middle East analyst Cliff Kupchan of risk consultancyEurasia group in an analysis: "We continue to believe that whilethere is a significant chance of a deal by the end of the secondquarter of 2014, an agreement on balance remains improbable.

"Iran will likely offer a new proposal in which it sets outa roadmap, possibly including concessions on medium-enricheduranium in return for sanctions relief," he said. "The U.S. willagree to study the proposal but probably insist on more severenear-term constraints on Iran's nuclear programme."

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