High-level envoys mulled how to revive diplomacy aimed at securing a deal by July to rein in Iran's bomb-relevant nuclear activities, Reuters reports.
Finalizing a long-term plan before the expiration of an interim atomic accord was the goal of the Thursday gathering in Brussels, which brought together representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The looming cutoff is forcing participants in the talks to consider any ground they may offer in a bid to secure an agreement, according to Reuters.
The five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany -- represented in the discussions by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton -- are seeking limits on Iranian activities they fear could support arms development. Tehran insists its nuclear efforts are nonmilitary in nature, but has expressed openness to potential restrictions in exchange for relief from international sanctions.
Ashton spokesman Michael Mann said Thursday's meeting "affirmed the determination of the [six nations] to reach a comprehensive agreement by July 20," when their six-month interim agreement with Tehran is scheduled to lapse. The "P-5+1" nations are slated to launch their next meeting with Iran on July 2.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed worries that the six powers may concede too much to Iran in their push for a compromise, the Jerusalem Post reported on Friday.
"If there is one message that needs to be put out today it is not to let Iran, on the sidelines of this conflict in Iraq, have nuclear weapons capability because sooner or later -- and it's sooner rather than later -- they'll have atomic bombs," Netanyahu said.
Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen and Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz are expected to make a similar case during a weekend trip to Washington.