* Two sides working on detail of nuclear talks
* Powers want long-term curbs on Iran's nuclear activity
* Iran wants complete removal of damaging economic sanctions
* Talks in Vienna go into second day, outcome unclear
* Final settlement in long nuclear standoff elusive for now
(Adds Iranian and European diplomats, analyst)
By Fredrik Dahl and Justyna Pawlak
VIENNA, Feb 19 Six world powers and Iran
appeared to make some progress at a second day of talks in
Vienna on Wednesday to hammer out an agenda for reaching an
ambitious final settlement to the decade-old standoff over
Tehran's nuclear programme.
The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and
Germany want a long-term agreement on the permissible scope of
Iran's nuclear activities to lay to rest concerns that they
could be put to developing atomic bombs. Tehran's priority is a
complete removal of damaging economic sanctions against it.
The negotiations will probably extend at least over several
months, and could help defuse many years of hostility between
energy-exporting Iran and the West, ease the danger of a new war
in the Middle East, transform the regional power balance and
open up major business opportunities for Western firms.
Both sides were relatively upbeat about the first meeting.
"The talks are going surprisingly well. There haven't been
any real problems so far," a senior Western diplomat said.
A European diplomat said Iran and the world powers were
"committed to negotiating in good faith" and that they had
discussed the schedule for future meetings and other issues.
"Experts had detailed discussions on some of the key issues
which would have to be part of a comprehensive settlement," the
A senior Iranian official, Hamid Baidinejad, told Reuters:
"Talks were positive and generally (were about) the framework
for the agenda for further talks."
The talks had originally been expected to run for as long as
three full days but might be adjourned as early as Thursday
morning due to the crisis in Ukraine, according to Western
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who
coordinates official contacts with Iran on behalf of the six,
was due to attend an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign
ministers in Brussels on Ukraine on Thursday afternoon.
Ashton's deputy Helga Schmid chaired the Vienna talks during
the day with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi,
flanked by senior diplomats from the six powers. Separately,
Ashton met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The powers have yet to spell out their precise demands of
Iran. But Western officials have signalled they want Tehran to
cap enrichment of uranium at a low fissile concentration, limit
research and development of new nuclear equipment, decommission
a substantial portion of its centrifuges used to refine uranium,
and allow more intrusive U.N. nuclear inspections.
Such steps, they believe, would help extend the time Iran
would need to make enough fissile material for a bomb and make
such a move easier to detect before it became a fait accompli.
Tehran says its programme is peaceful and has no military aims.
Graham Allison, director of Harvard University's Belfer
Center, said the aim should be to deny Iran an "exercisable
nuclear weapons option".
"Our essential requirement is that the timeline between an
Iranian decision to seek a bomb and success in building it is
long enough, and an Iranian move in that direction is clear
enough, that the United States or Israel have sufficient time to
intervene to prevent Iran's succeeding," he said.
COMPLEX PROCESS AHEAD
Highlighting wide differences over expectations in the
talks, Araqchi was cited by Iran's English-language Press TV
state television on Tuesday as saying that any dismantling of
Iranian nuclear installations would not be up for negotiation.
The talks could also stumble over the future of Iran's
facilities in Arak, an unfinished heavy-water reactor that
Western states worry could yield plutonium for bombs, and the
Fordow uranium enrichment plant, which was built deep
underground to ward off any threat of air strikes.
"Iran's nuclear sites will continue their activities like
before," the official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian Atomic
Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi saying.
During a decade of on-and-off dialogue with world powers,
Iran has rejected Western allegations that it has been seeking
the means to build nuclear weapons. It says it is enriching
uranium only for electricity generation and medical purposes.
As part of a final deal, Iran expects the United States, the
European Union and the United Nations to lift painful economic
sanctions on the oil-dependent economy. But Western governments
will be wary of giving up their leverage too soon.
Ahead of the talks, a senior U.S. official said getting to a
deal would be a "complicated, difficult and lengthy process".
On the eve of the Vienna round, both sides played down
anticipation of early progress, with Iran's clerical Supreme
Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying he was not optimistic -
but also not opposed to negotiations.
The six powers hope to get a deal done by late July, when an
interim accord struck in November expires.
That agreement, made possible by the election of relative
moderate President Hassan Rouhani on a platform of relieving
Iran's international isolation by engaging constructively with
its adversaries, obliged Tehran to suspend higher-level
enrichment in return for some relief from economic sanctions.
Zarif, also quoted by Press TV on Tuesday, sounded an
optimistic note. "It is really possible to make an agreement
because of a simple overriding fact and that is that we have no
(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Louis Charbonneau in
Vienna; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Janet Lawrence)