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Iran, 5+1 to talk nuclear after Ukraine events

6 May 2014 12:15 (UTC+04:00)
Iran, 5+1 to talk nuclear after Ukraine events

By Sara Rajabova

The representatives of Iran and the six world powers are set to resume the next expert -level talks on Tehran's nuclear energy program in New York.

Experts from Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, China, Russia, France, and Britain - plus Germany will hold a fresh round of talks on May 6-7, Press TV quoted director general for political and international security affairs at Iran's Foreign Ministry Hamid Baeidinejad as saying.

Negotiations will be held ahead of a fresh round of high-level nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1, scheduled to begin in Vienna on May 13.

This round of talks will be very important, as the six-month period to limit certain aspects of Tehran's nuclear activities is coming to an end.

In addition to that, the situation on the international arena has changed due to the tense relations between the West and Russia over the events in Ukraine.

Ukraine is divided between a largely Russian-speaking population in the industrial east and Ukrainian-speaking west, where more pro-European Union views prevail.

Moscow says Russian-speakers face threats from the Ukrainian nationalist militants, an accusation Kiev denies.

Western countries blame Russia for the unstable situation in Ukraine and threaten to impose economic sanctions on the country.

Against the background of these events, talks over Iran's nuclear program have entered new stage, as the negotiation team consists of two confronting sides.

United States, France, Britain and Germany stand on one end of the axis and Russia is on the other.

Meanwhile, China is standing aloof, refusing to get involved in the confrontations. However, China is mostly seen as a supporter of Russia in international relations.

As for Iran, the country has had sour relations with the West, especially the United States, and lived under sanctions for over the past 30 years.

However, the sanctions imposed on this country in the last two years have severed even more, causing Iran to face harsh economic difficulties.

Therefore, in order to overcome the sanctions and solve economic problems, Iran has started to negotiate with the P5+1.

On the other hand, the Western countries, namely Europe, are also interested in the restoration of relations and cooperation with Iran in order to get rid of the Russian domination on Europe's energy supplies.

Russia supplies a significant volume of fossil fuels, and is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union.

Especially after the events in Ukraine, the importance of Iran has increased even more in terms of ensuring Europe's energy security. Iran also enjoys good relations with Russia and the positions of these two countries usually coincide over many issues of international relations.

However, Iran has also the world's second largest natural gas reserves after Russia and in some cases could be seen as a rival to this country. Therefore, tense relations between the West and Russia could urge western countries to pursue a softer policy towards Iran.

Commenting on the issue, professor of economics at U.S. Northeastern University Kamran Dadkhah told AzerNews that unfortunately, the recent crisis in Ukraine and the possibility of a new cold war has complicated the situation.

"The best scenario for Iran is that the crisis is contained and Russia and the West patch up their relations. Under those circumstances, nuclear talks have a better chance of succeeding. But if the crisis continues and a new cold war starts, countries have to decide to join one side or the other or stay neutral," Dadkah said.

He stressed that neutrality is not an option for Iran and many other countries.

"Iran's optimal choice is to side with the West and ensure sanctions removal. If Iranian politicians think they can rely on Russia and confront the West even for one minute, they should have their heads examined," Dadkhah said.

Commenting on the future of talks regarding West-Russia relations over Ukraine events, senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies James M. Dorsey said, "It is of course possible that Russia would want to exploit the nuclear talks for its own purposes in the context of Ukraine."

"At the same time, Russia also has an interest in the talks succeeding, and certainly does not want to be seen as the reason for a potential breakdown," Dorsey said.

Tehran and the six countries wrapped up their latest round of high-level nuclear talks in Vienna on April 9.

Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group are aimed at reaching a final agreement to fully resolve the decade-old dispute between the West and Tehran over the latter's nuclear energy program.

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