The talks — where the United States is represented by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman —are intended to resolve differences between the Western powers and the Middle Eastern nation concerning Iran’s nuclear fuel enrichment program.
The term P5+1 refers to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France — plus Germany. Germany is joined as a partner in the talks primarily because it is Iran’s largest trade partner, and Iran’s nuclear enrichment program depends heavily on German products and services.
Upon arriving in Geneva, Kerry told the press:
I want to emphasize there are still some very important issues on the table that are unresolved. It is important for those to be properly, thoroughly addressed. I want to emphasize there is not an agreement at this point in time, but the P51 is working hard.
Kerry flew to Geneva from Tel Aviv following conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he tried to relieve Israeli reservations about the Geneva talks. An AP report noted that Israel is strongly critical of any deal that even slightly lifts sanctions against Iran unless that nation completely relinquishes all technology that might be used to manufacture nuclear arms.
In the late 1990s, the U.S. intelligence community estimated that Israel possessed between 75 and 130 nuclear weapons, as well as second-strike abilities in the form of its submarine fleet and its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which can be launched from nuclear-strike-resistant underground silos.
The AP’s report, which was somewhat misleading, said,
The talks primarily focus on the size and output of Iran's enrichment program, which can create both reactor fuel and weapons-grade material suitable for a nuclear bomb. Iran insists it is pursuing only nuclear energy, medical treatments and research, but the United States and its allies fear that Iran could turn this material into the fissile core of nuclear warheads.
Many observers dispute the contention that Iran is close to producing a nuclear weapon.
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