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Israel says Kerry remarks on Iran nuclear threshold 'not acceptable'

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel described as "unacceptable" on Monday remarks by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry suggesting cautious openness to negotiating a nuclear deal that would keep Iran six to 12 months away from bomb-making capability. "In the past, and also recently, what we heard from the Americans, including publicly, and from the Europeans and even from the Russians, was that Iran must be distanced years - not months but years - from nuclear weaponry," said Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli cabinet minister in charge of nuclear affairs.

Ship ready to destroy Syria's chemical arms at sea

By Fiona Ortiz ON BOARD THE CAPE RAY, Spain (Reuters) - Experts on board a cargo ship transformed into a multi-million dollar chemical weapons destroyer said on Thursday they were ready to start working on Syria's stock of toxic arms in the middle of the Mediterranean as early as May. Now they just have to hope the weather holds and Damascus delivers on time.

Next round of Iran nuclear talks to begin May 13

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran and six major powers will begin a new round of negotiations in Vienna on May 13 to hammer out a long-term accord aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, a Western diplomat said on Wednesday. The diplomat, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, was in Vienna for a two-day negotiating session, the third in Vienna this year, during which participants said all important issues were discussed by U.S., British, French, Germany, Russian, Chinese and Iranian officials.

Iran nuclear talks to 'move to next stage' in May

Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers on negotiating a definitive agreement will in May "move to the next stage", EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday after a meeting in Vienna. "We now move to the next stage of the negotiations in which we will aim to bridge the gaps in all the key areas and work on the concrete elements of a possible comprehensive agreement," Ashton told reporters in a joint statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. stu/cc

Russia has no high expectations for upcoming Iran nuclear talks: report

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has no special expectations for the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Monday. Speaking before high-level talks in Vienna on April 8-9, Ryabkov said talks on a number of issues were still in early stages and that the meeting should produce a basis for further talks, according to the Itar-Tass news agency. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Berlin to send frigate to help destroy Syrian chemical weapons

The German government agreed on Wednesday to send a frigate to take part in an international mission in the Mediterranean Sea to destroy Syria's chemical weapons. Up to 300 German soldiers will take part in the deployment to help protect the US vessel, MV Cape Ray, aboard which the weapons will be broken down at sea using hydrolysis. The German mandate runs until December at the latest and must be approved by the Bundestag lower house of parliament where the left-right "grand coalition" has an overwhelming majority.

Syria has almost zero chemical arms potential: Russian Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Syrian government has reduced its chemical weapons potential close to zero, state-run RIA news agency quoted an unnamed official at the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying on Friday. "Chemical weapons production facilities, equipment for mixing (chemicals) and operating (the weapons), as well as the means of their delivery have been destroyed," the official said, adding that the only gas that had been ready for use in weaponry had been completely removed from the country.

EU sees wide differences in Iran nuclear talks: email

VIENNA (Reuters) - Positions between Iran and major powers differ widely on some areas but Iranian negotiators seem very committed to reach an agreement on the country's nuclear program, a senior EU official said in an email seen by Reuters on Thursday. The brief email from European Union official Helga Schmid to senior officials of EU member states was written after a March 18-19 meeting between Iran and the powers - the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain - in Vienna.

Syria ships out 45% of chemical weapons stockpile

The global chemical weapons watchdog said Wednesday that 45.6% of chemical substances subject to an international destruction program have been shipped out of Syria. The program had required all chemicals to be shipped out by Feb. 5. The Syrian government has told the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that it will complete the work by late April. The organization is calling on Syria to accelerate operations. ==Kyodo

Syria ships out 45% of chemical weapons stockpile

The global chemical weapons watchdog said Wednesday that 45.6% of chemical substances subject to an international destruction program have been shipped out of Syria. The program had required all chemicals to be shipped out by Feb. 5. The Syrian government has told the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that it will complete the work by late April. The organization is calling on Syria to accelerate operations. ==Kyodo
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