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Iran and U.S. agree final nuclear deal may be unreachable



(Reuters) - The United States and long-time arch-foe Iran agree on at least one thing ahead of Tuesday's negotiations on a long-term nuclear deal - reaching an agreement will be very difficult, if not impossible.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who has the final say on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, declared again on Monday that talks between Tehran and six world powers "will not lead anywhere.

Hours later a senior U.S. administration official also played down expectations, telling reporters in the Austrian capital that it will be a "complicated, difficult and lengthy process" and "probably as likely that we won't get an agreement as it is that we will.

Their remarks came on the eve of the first round of high-level negotiations since an interim deal was struck on November 24 under which Tehran curbed some nuclear activities for six months in return for limited sanctions relief to allow time for a long-term agreement to be hammered out.

Despite his skepticism about the chances for a lasting deal with the West, Khamenei made clear Tehran was committed to continuing the negotiations between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

"What our officials started will continue. We will not renege. I have no opposition," he told a crowd in the northern city of Tabriz on Monday to chants of "Death to America".

If successful, the negotiations could help put an end to years of hostility between Iran and the West, ease the danger of a new war in the Middle East, and open up vast new possibilities for Western businesses.

During a decade of on-and-off negotiations with world powers, Iran has rejected allegations by Western countries that it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability. It says its nuclear work is for power generation and medical purposes.

Tehran has defied U.N. Security Council demands that it suspend uranium enrichment and other sensitive activities, leading to a crippling web of U.S., EU and U.N. sanctions that has severely damaged the oil-producing nation's economy.

Khamenei's decision to pursue negotiations with the six powers in spite of the skepticism he shares with his hard-line supporters, diplomats and analysts say, is a result of Iran's worsening economic conditions.

CURBING URANIUM ENRICHMENT

The goal of the talks for the United States and its European allies is to extend the "breakout time" that Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a bomb.

For that goal to be achieved, experts and diplomats say, Iran would have to restrict enriching uranium to a low fissile concentration, stop most of its centrifuges now used for such work, limit nuclear research, and submit to highly intrusive monitoring by U.N. inspectors.

Khamenei and other Iranian officials have repeatedly made clear that such reductions of its nuclear capacities would be unacceptable.

Western governments appear to have given up on the idea, enshrined in a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions since 2006, that Iran should halt entirely the most controversial aspects of its program - all activities related to the enrichment of uranium and production of plutonium.

Diplomats privately acknowledge that Iran's nuclear work is now too far advanced for Tehran to agree to dismantle it completely.

But while Iran may keep a limited enrichment capacity, the West will seek guarantees that mean any attempt to build a nuclear bomb would take long enough for it to be detected and stopped, possibly with military action.

The talks in Vienna begin on Tuesday and are expected to last for several days. Senior officials from the six powers will meet with an Iranian delegation led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his deputy Abbas Araqchi.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton coordinates the negotiations on behalf of the six powers. The talks will be the first in what is expected to be a series of meetings in the coming months.

While cautioning the talks would take time, the U.S. official said Washington does not want them to run beyond a six-month deadline agreed in the November deal. The late July deadline can be extended for another half year by mutual consent.

(Additional reporting by Justyna Pawlak and Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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bill2shaux February 18 2014 at 12:56 PM

The only and best hope is Isreal !Their whole existance is for survival and we all know that these delays will allow ( with 100% certainy) that evil and dictatorial empire in IRAN to stall long enough to produce an atomic weapon.This of course will result in other countries to actively and with a sense of speed to develop their own means of mass destruction. I ask " Will we in America be more safe or will we at far greater risk of an attack on our own soil. One a-bomb exploding over ths United States would result in the very week grid system crashing causing total power shortages for an extended period of time, Devastation consequences would entail. NO- ISREAL HASN'T MANY CHOICES AND I THINK THEy WILL SAVE US AND THEMSELVES . Lets hope so because our Mighty Forces could get the job done but weak leadership will cave. Lets just and pray (oops - didnt mean to offend anyone) SEE YA !!!!!!!

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Rich February 18 2014 at 9:19 AM

this guy is 100% correct, these talks are not going to lead to anything substantive, in fact a dismal failure...........Iran will go back to fuel enrichment, Israel will not take the chance of Iran getting close to developing nukes, they will attack and of course the US with it's enormously long nose will get involved big time, again we will be fighting another decades long war that we should not be involved in, not too mention that as we get weaker from wars, what nations are getting stronger and stronger

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mike shaffer February 18 2014 at 8:53 AM

Theres nothing between the ears of our great leaders who believe the surprime leader of Iran is liying when he says there can be no deal reached on his nuclear program.. Our idoits believe otherwise.

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Beautiful February 18 2014 at 8:44 AM

I think we just just stop bullying countries around and just leave them alone, it embarrasses me that the USA is no better than any other imperialist empire from the past.
I don't know how long we can keep sending our centurions to far away lands without collapsing within. Anyway this century belongs to Asia.

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markiesplatter86 February 18 2014 at 9:36 AM

It's a UN-game today. on U>S>A. Viva Satellite and drones.

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reve824740 February 18 2014 at 8:36 AM

this is another attempt by iran to delay additional sanctions while the continue to move towards a nuclear nation aimed at threatening smaller nations

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1 reply
kcarthey reve824740 February 18 2014 at 9:10 AM

Israel is the only nationthat regularly uses its nukes to threaten these days. Perhaps those threats would stop if Iran had the bomb.

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1 reply
Kat kcarthey February 18 2014 at 9:34 AM

It's because of them that Israel threatens and they are being fired on daily by these Islams !!

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Bill Case February 18 2014 at 8:24 AM

Iran should be treated as the declared enemy of the free world - and isolated as much as possible from all international trade. Israel should be fully supported (and defended if required) for any actions it feels necessary to protect itself from future attracts by Iran.

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raptureus210 February 18 2014 at 7:20 AM

Folks, don't allow these words to mislead you into thinking that Iran will not get nukes. This is why people should read the Bible. Especially in Eziekel 38 and 39. Iran (Magog) and Russia (Gog) and other nations will have nukes and they will try to destroy Israel. Read for yourselves the outcome. If I try to tell you, you would automatically blow me off as being crazy. Read it and decide for yourself. Then you can blow off the Word of God if you dare too.

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1 reply
kcarthey raptureus210 February 18 2014 at 7:32 AM

I heard the same argument about Russia and Germany, Gog and Magog, as regards to WWII. I'm sure it's bee used for centuries. It is a hollow and false excuse built on a fairy tale and not realpolitic.

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3 replies
gudtip February 18 2014 at 5:02 AM

I would not trust them with a 10 foot poll

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jesuaphn February 18 2014 at 4:46 AM

They always say Death to America. I think we should start saying "Death to Iran"....I do!

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