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Iran agrees to restart stalled nuclear talks

ISTANBUL – After more than 15 hours of expert-level talks, the United States and other major world powers agreed with Iran early today to move toward resumption of full negotiations to ensure that Iran’s nuclear fuel enrichment does not turn into a nuclear weapons program, a European participant at the talks said.

The meeting, in Istanbul’s upscale Conrad hotel, began Tuesday amid doubts that talks would resume after they stalled last month.

But as of early today, the participants reached agreement to implement the “Moscow plan,” a process that would start with a mid-level meeting between a senior European Union official, Helga Schmidt, and her Iranian counterpart, Ali Bagheri.

The outcome of those talks would determine whether full-scale negotiations will follow, a European diplomat attending the talks told McClatchy Newspapers.

The Iran talks hold the key to war and peace in the Persian Gulf, and well beyond.

Israel has threatened a military strike if Iran does not cease enriching uranium to 20 percent – a degree that, while far short of weapons grade, would allow it to produce nuclear weapons in a matter of a year or more.

But with top Israeli military and intelligence figures and senior U.S. national security officials warning publicly that an Israeli airstrike would only delay the Iranian program for a few years at most, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu agreed to give President Barack Obama a chance to seek a diplomatic solution first.


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