Iran, Western powers agree to new round of nuke talks

These talks, tentatively set for June in Russia, will be the third meeting between Iranian officials and members of the P5+1 group — the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany. 

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Both sides agreed to hold the June meeting in Moscow after little progress was made at the conclusion of this week's round of talks in Iraq. 

"We will maintain intensive contacts with our Iranian counterparts to prepare a further meeting in Moscow," European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters during a Thursday briefing from Baghdad. 

The two previous rounds of talks have yielded little progress, except to lead to further negotiations between Iran and the West.

But some on Capitol Hill seem to be running out of patience, demanding the United States take a harder line against the Iranian program. 

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) penned an op-ed in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal that warned Iran might be more interested in stalling sanctions against its nuclear program than actually making the changes the international community is asking for.

However, Ashton told reporters there was a shared understanding between the two groups on the need to address international concerns over Iran's nuclear program, while respecting the country's right to pursue energy alternatives. 

That said, Ashton noted there were still a number of significant challenges facing negotiators as they prepare for the Moscow talks.

One of those challenges is the enrichment levels that Iran's nuclear engineers are trying to achieve in the program. 

"Iran declared its readiness to address the issue of 20 percent enrichment and came with its own five point plan, including their assertion that we recognize their right to enrichment," Ashton said, according to Reuters. 

Nuclear material enriched by 20 percent can only be used for energy purposes. Fissile material, such as uranium, must be enriched by 90 percent for use in a nuclear weapon. 

Last Wednesday, Iran announced the addition of 20 new centrifuges at its underground nuclear facility in Qom. Those new centrifuges could allow Iran to obtain weapons-grade nuclear materiel. 

News of the centrifuges came days before before the Baghdad talks and has been seen as another example of Tehran's defiance of international demands to curb its nuclear work.