Last updated: 7 April, 2014

Iran aims to move ahead to drafting nuclear deal

Iran said Monday it aims, at talks with world powers this week, to wind up the negotiating phase and move on to drafting a final accord on its nuclear programme.

“We will try to finish the discussions in this round and start writing the draft of the comprehensive agreement from the Iranian month of Ordibehesht,” which starts April 21, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by state-run television upon arrival in Vienna for the Tuesday-Wednesday talks.

Zarif was to hold a dinner meeting later Monday with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is leading the negotiations on behalf of six world powers — the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.

The Vienna meeting is the third round of negotiations aimed at reaching a lasting accord to end the decade-long standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Western nations and Israel have long suspected Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian programme, charges denied by Tehran.

Under an interim agreement reached last year that expires July 20, Iran froze key parts of its nuclear programme in return for limited sanctions relief and a promise of no new sanctions.

Reeling from double-digit inflation, high unemployment, stagnation and mismanagement, Iran’s oil-reliant economy has struggled under US-led sanctions aimed at curtailing its nuclear ambitions.