An Iranian envoy said his nation held meaningful technical discussions with six other nations this week on its long-running nuclear dispute, Reuters reports.
"The talks are very serious and substantive and useful," said Hamid Baeedinejad, Iran's top delegate to the session in Vienna with specialists from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. The gathering started on Wednesday and continued into Friday, and was expected to help lay the groundwork for a higher-level meeting between the sides scheduled for the week of March 17.
The "P-5+1" nations are seeking to address international concerns that Iran's ostensibly peaceful atomic program is masking the development of an arms capacity. Iran insists there is no military motivation behind its nuclear program, but Tehran is taking part in the negotiations in a bid to win the elimination of international economic penalties.
"We reviewed many topics of the nuclear issue, but it is just the beginning and more sessions ... will be needed," the Australian Associated Press quoted Baeedinejad as saying of this week's talks.
The diplomat noted that the meeting included full expert delegations from Iran and the other negotiating countries -- China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- according to Iran's state-run Press TV. Earlier this week, U.S. and Iranian government sources suggested that an international crisis involving Ukraine would not compromise multilateral dialogue on the nuclear dispute.
The sides opened this week's three-day technical session by focusing on the refinement of uranium, and on an unfinished Iranian heavy-water reactor capable of generating plutonium. The United States and other Western powers fear Iran could tap either capability to produce fuel for a nuclear weapon.