U.S. Sees Iran Nuclear Talks Difficult, Success Uncertain

(Reuters) -

The United States said on Monday that talks between Iran and six world powers on a long-term deal for Tehran to limit its nuclear program and see international sanctions lifted will be long and complicated with no guarantee of success.

The remarks came from a senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity on the eve of the first round of high-level negotiations since an interim deal struck on November 24 under which Tehran curbed some nuclear activities for limited sanctions relief.

“These next days this week are the beginning of what will be a complicated, difficult and lengthy process,” the administration official told reporters in the Austrian capital.

“When the stakes are this high and the devil is truly in the details, one has to take the time to ensure the confidence of the international community in the result,” the official said. “That can’t be done in a day, a week or even a month in this situation.”

Senior officials from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States will begin several days of talks in Vienna on Tuesday with an Iranian delegation led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his deputy Abbas Araqchi.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will oversee the talks, which 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 official said Washington does not want them to run beyond a six-month deadline agreed to in the November 24 deal. The late July deadline can be extended for another half year by mutual consent.

“Our intent is to use these six months to negotiate a comprehensive agreement,” the official said.

“I think we will certainly know in six months, probably much sooner than that, whether the odds have increased or not to get a comprehensive agreement,” the official said.

“But our goal, our objective, is to use these six months … to get a comprehensive agreement.”