Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talks to journalists as he visits the Parliament in Vienna March 19, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
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Iran and world powers locked horns on Wednesday over the fate of a planned Iranian nuclear reactor that could yield plutonium for bombs, diplomats said, although Tehran's foreign minister voiced optimism that their July 20 deadline for a deal is within reach.The meeting in Vienna is the second in a series that the six nations -- the United States, China, Russia, Germany, France, Britain -- hope will produce a verifiable settlement on the scope of Iran's nuclear activity, ensuring it is oriented for peaceful purposes, and put to rest the risk of a new Middle East war. At this week's round, the two sides attempted to iron out their positions on two of the most thorny issues: the level of uranium enrichment conducted in Iran, and its Arak heavy water reactor that the West sees as a possible source of plutonium. The United States has called on Iran to scrap or radically alter the planned reactor, but Tehran has so far rejected that idea while hinting they could modify it. Iran and the six powers aim to wrap up a lasting accord by late July, when their groundbreaking interim deal from last November expires and would need to be extended, complicating diplomacy.
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