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Kerry, Zarif restart Iran nuclear talks

Foreign ministers of Iran and the United States met to revive the stalled talks.

By
Ed Adamczyk
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif . UPI/Maryam Rahmanian
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif . UPI/Maryam Rahmanian | License Photo

GENEVA, Switzerland, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program have restarted in Geneva, Switzerland, after Iran and the Western countries announced an extension of the talks.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday, said negotiators are prepared to "speed up" the process leading to an ease of United Nations economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for a curb on the Iranian nuclear program. A temporary deal was reached in November 2013, but a comprehensive agreement has been elusive, with several deadlines missed.

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Earlier this week Kerry said the restart of the talks would be an opportunity to view where Iran and the PS+1 countries -- Germany and the permanent United Nations Security Council members, the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom -- stand.

"We are at a juncture where most of the issues are now getting fleshed out and understood," Kerry said earlier.

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Issues of disagreement include the speed with which sanctions could be lifted, and the future of Iran's uranium enrichment program, which Iran insists is solely for peaceful purposes. Increasing violence in the Middle East and North Africa are likely the motivator for accelerating the talks, as well as a goal of having an agreement in place by Mar. 1, and completion of full technical details of a deal announced by July 1.

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The sanctions have had a more severe effect on Iran, in light of the reduction in the global price of its largest export, oil.

"Oil exports from Iran have been cut roughly from 2.5 million to 1 million barrels a day," Allen Keiswetter of Washington's Middle East Institute told the Voice of America. "Furthermore, the price of oil has now dropped by about 50 percent. So, you are looking at Iran receiving 20 to 25 percent of the revenues that it did previously."

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