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Moscow Says Lavrov, Kerry Agree Iran Nuclear Deal Needed Soon

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. counterpart John Kerry have reportedly called for an agreement to be reached as soon as possible on a permanent nuclear deal with Iran.

Moscow says the move came during a November 12 telephone conversation between Lavrov and Kerry.

A statement from Russia's Foreign Ministry about the conversation said: "The need to reach as soon as possible a comprehensive agreement which would allow to fully normalize the situation around the Iranian nuclear program has been acknowledged."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed the two had spoken about the Iran negotiations by phone, but she did not go into detail about the conversation.

Iran and world powers met in Oman one day earlier amid signs that an elusive deal on Tehran's nuclear program may not be reached before a self-imposed November 24 deadline.

A permanent agreement is meant to ease Western suspicions that Iran's nuclear program is secretly aimed at trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

In return, Iran wants a lifting of international sanctions that have crippled its economy.

Russia's chief negotiator, Sergei Ryabkov, said after the November 11 talks that he was still "reasonably optimistic."

Speaking in Oman on November 12, Ryabkov said there was a sizable chance for world powers to reach a deal with Iran despite "deep gaps" and what he called the "negative attitude" of unspecified participants in the talks.

Those negotiating with Iran are known as the P5+1 -- a group comprising Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France, and Germany.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his warning against concluding nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is "obvious that Iran is not prepared to dismantle its nuclear weapons program."

Tehran insists that its nuclear program is only for the peaceful civilian purposes of power generation and medical research.

But the UN's nuclear watchdog has noted Iran's lack of disclosure and the Security Council has approved several rounds of sanctions targeting Tehran's nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

The current negotiations have reportedly stalled over how much enriched uranium Iran should be allowed to produce.

Enriched uranium is used for nuclear power generation. But at higher enrichment levels, it can be used to produce a nuclear weapon.

Russia on November 11 also signed a contract to build two nuclear reactors at Iran's existing Russian-built Bushehr plant and announced plans for a total of nine Iranian reactors.

Psaki on November 12 said that Russia's nuclear contract with Iran was "technically separate from the negotiations over a nuclear deal."

She said: "Broadly speaking, civilian nuclear cooperation is not prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, TASS, and Interfax
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