New round of Iran nuke talks begin
Russia, the United States and other world powers tried to put their sharp differences over Ukraine to one side yesterday as they kicked off the latest nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna.
The gathering is the second in a series of meetings aiming to transform by July a November interim deal into a lasting accord that resolves for good the decade-old standoff and removes the threat of war.
So far, despite disagreements over the Syria conflict and other issues, the six powers have shown a united front over Iran, but events in Ukraine in recent weeks have precipitated the worst crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.
Even without the spat over Ukraine, agreeing a lasting deal will be tough for Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, known as the P5+1.
Under November's agreement, Iran froze key parts of its nuclear programme in return for minor sanctions relief and a promise of no new sanctions.
Although it could be extended, the deal is currently due to expire on July 20.
Iran has not permanently dismantled a single piece of atomic equipment. The bulk of UN and Western sanctions remain in place, depriving Iran of billions of dollars in lost oil revenues every week.