• Austria's news in English

US Secretary of State on flying visit to Vienna

AFP/The Local · 10 Jul 2014, 23:14

Published: 10 Jul 2014 23:14 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Kerry "will see if progress can be made on the issues where significant gaps remain and assess Iran's willingness to make a set of critical choices at the negotiating table," spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Foreign ministers from world powers have been invited to Vienna on Sunday to evaluate nuclear talks underway with Iran, a spokesman for lead negotiator Catherine Ashton also said on Thursday.

EU foreign policy chief Ashton "has invited ... foreign ministers who are available to come to Vienna on Sunday to take stock of where we are" in the talks, spokesman Michael Mann tweeted.

The talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, which began last week, are aimed at forging a lasting deal with Iran meant to ease fears that the Islamic state might develop nuclear weapons.

The deadline to get a deal is July 20, when an interim deal struck by foreign ministers in Geneva on November 24 expires, although this can be extended if both sides agree to do so.

Earlier, a diplomat in Paris told AFP that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius would arrive on Sunday.

The negotiations have, as expected, proved tough going.

France has described them as "difficult" and on Tuesday said no major issues had been resolved, although Russia said Thursday there were "clear signs of progress".

The main sticking point is uranium enrichment, a process which can produce nuclear fuel -- Iran's stated aim -- but also in highly purified form the core of an atomic weapon.

On Tuesday Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, gave a speech indicating that Tehran intends to greatly increase its enrichment capacities.

The six powers want a sharp reduction, however, with a senior US official saying last week that Iran's enrichment capacities should be a "fraction" of what they are now.

This, coupled with other measures, would extend the so-called "breakout time" -- the time Iran would need to make enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon, should it choose to do so.

Iran says it wants to enrich uranium to fuel planned nuclear power plants around Iran, but these facilities are years, if not decades, away from being in operation.

Story continues below…

Other difficult issues in what would be a highly complex accord include the pace at which UN and Western sanctions on Iran would be lifted under any deal, and increased UN supervision of Iran's facilities.

The two sides also need to agree on the fate of a new reactor being built at Arak which could give it plutonium, the alternative to uranium for a nuclear weapon.

Mark Fitzpatrick, a former US State Department official now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told AFP it was "too early" for the ministers to decide now to extend the July 20 deadline.

"It's safe to conclude that the ministers are going to Vienna to make a final push to try to get a deal. An extension wouldn't need such a high-level of negotiators and it's too early anyway to fall back to an extension rather than a comprehensive deal," he said.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (rosie.waites@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Austrian far-right leader brands Merkel 'dangerous'
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has branded Angela Merkel Europe's most dangerous politician.

Austria 'horror clown' attacks leave several injured
Clown performers are not happy about the negative media stories. Photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

Several people have been injured in attacks by masked assailants dressed as 'creepy clowns' in the lead-up to Halloween.

Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available