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Iran, U.S. Split Over Ballistic-Missile Focus in Nuclear Talks

A woman passes a Shahab 2 ballistic missile on display in Tehran in 2010. Iran and the United States reportedly are still divided about whether a planned nuclear dialogue should address Tehran's ballistic-missile activities. A woman passes a Shahab 2 ballistic missile on display in Tehran in 2010. Iran and the United States reportedly are still divided about whether a planned nuclear dialogue should address Tehran's ballistic-missile activities. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

Tehran and Washington appear divided on whether limits on Iran's ballistic-missile activities are fair game in nuclear talks, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The apparent difference arose on Thursday, during the announcement of a newly negotiated agenda for planned discussions on the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear activities. The five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany hope in coming months to hammer out a deal with Tehran to dispel international fears that its civilian nuclear program could potentially support nuclear-arms production.

The United States wants to negotiate restrictions on Iran's ballistic-missile program as part of a possible agreement, but the idea has prompted resistance from Iranian government personnel, according to the Journal.

Speaking to reporters in Vienna, Iran's top diplomat said his nation's defense capacities are beyond the purview of its upcoming discussions with the "P-5+1" countries.

"Nothing except Iran's nuclear activities will be discussed in the talks with the P-5+1, and we have agreed on it," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

"Iran’s defensive capability is no subject for the negotiations," he stressed in a comment quoted by Iran's state-run Fars News Agency.

A senior Obama administration official, though, later appeared to reaffirm Washington's interest in discussing Iran's ballistic-missile program.

When asked about Iran's rejection of any talks on the matter, the insider said that "every issue of concern to us has been discussed, will be discussed."

Iran and the six world powers agreed in an interim accord on the basis for the upcoming negotiations, and the November plan "talks about all concerns needing to be addressed" in a potential final agreement, the official said during a Thursday news briefing, conducted on-background.

"It talks about the U.N. Security Council resolutions needing to be addressed. It talks about making sure that we know that, in fact, this is an entirely peaceful program," the insider said.

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