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For more than a decade - through standoffs and outreach - the cornerstone of Iran's nuclear disputes with the West has been uranium enrichment, which is the central process in turning concentrated uranium into nuclear fuel. Negotiators in Geneva must balance opposing interests: Demands by the U.S. and allies for limits and controls over how far Iran can take its program and Tehran's insistence to maintain its self-sufficiency over every step of the nuclear process from uranium mines to reactor cores. Enrichment also is at the forefront of criticism by Israel and its backers in the West who fear leaving Iran even with the basic technology to make reactor fuel, which is the pathway for possible weapons-grade material.
Peter Westmacott made his appeal as the latest round of talks entered its third day, with diplomats from Iran, the EU and six world powers trying to overcome the last few remaining hurdles to a landmark deal. Officials said it seemed likely the negotiations would enter an unplanned fourth day on Saturday but it was not clear whether the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and other foreign ministers would fly in – which would be a clear sign a breakthrough was at hand.
"The deal currently under negotiation would be a meaningful first step, immediately improving our national security and that of our partners in the region. This is, therefore, a critical week for diplomacy," Peter Westmacott wrote in the Washington political website The Hill.