Iran, West resume extended talks, main issues still on table

Iran’s extended nuclear negotiations yield no breakthrough as main gaps between Tehran and world powers continue to occupy significant place on negotiation table

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The long-standing nuclear negotiations between Iran and the world powers have still not yielded a remarkable breakthrough on the main issues, including the lifting of sanctions and monitoring of nuclear programme, as the agonising talks were extended from a previously self-imposed June 30 deadline to July 7.

After a 12-year of stand-off, Iran and the P5+1 group -the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany -  had reached a preliminary framework nuclear agreement in Switzerland on April 2.

The Western participants to the nuclear negotiations still regard that there were huge lingering issues that Tehran needs to fulfill for striking a fair deal, while Russia and China bloc maintain their optimism by pushing the Iranian leadership ahead of the extended talks which will be held from the weekend ‘till next week.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday that there was no breakthrough in the talks despite some progress had been made to terminate the nuclear impasse between Iran and the West.  

"Things have advanced but we have not yet reached the end," Fabius told reporters in Vienna.

"I intend to return Sunday evening. And I hope we will then be in place to move towards a definitive solution which will allow a robust accord," he added.

However, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond casted a more pessimistic view as he said, "I don't think we are at any kind of breakthrough moment yet.”

"The work goes on. You're going to see over the next few days ministers coming and ministers going to maintain the momentum of these discussions," he added.

The Chinese side, on the other hand, seemed positive ahead of the weekend talks when the Foreign Minister Wang Yi said striking a deal between the parties was a "high possibility" though he also confirmed that some difficulties have been continuing on the negotiation table.

"We have confidence that finally the parties concerned will arrive at a fair, balanced and just solution," Wang told reporters.

"We faced with some important and sensitive issues which no one can shy away from," he added.

The West has long been claiming that Iran was seeking to obtain nuclear bombs through its massive nuclear activities, but Tehran denies all allegations and says its nuclear programme would aim to meet civilian needs of energy demands.

Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran’s unwillingness to cooperate with the international investigators would cause a transparency problem.

The international watchdog said on its June monthly report on Iran that Tehran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium gas dropped below the maximum level required under 2013 level, but it insists upon a comprehensive investigation of the nuclear sites.

However, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei echoed the views of hardline revolutionary guards who essentially objected to the IAEA’s access to Iran’s military sites.

"Inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines," Khamenei said and dismissed freezing of the country’s long-standing nuclear programme for a long period of time as a necessity of prospective final agreement with the West.

Iran demands an immediate removal of sanctions, as well as the release nearly 100 billion dollars worth of its assets around the world.

But, the West still persists a complete removal of sanctions would depend on the IAEA’s full-fledged access into Iran’s nuclear facilities and freely deliver a comprehensive report on its findings which will confirm or deny the allegations attributed to Tehran.

Meanwhile, the head of IAEA, Yukiya Amano paid a visit to Tehran on Thursday by the invitation of Iranian side in order to accelerate stumbled nuclear investigation.

Amano met with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on late Thursday, but the result of the meeting was still unclear whether a progress made, according to Iranian media reports.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi only told a local Iranian media that the meeting had been passed within a "constructive" environment.

The US President Barack Obama urged Iran to remain committed to the preliminary deal on Tuesday upon the extension of previous deadline.

“Ultimately this is going to be up to the Iranians,”  Obama said during a news conference in Washington on Tuesday.

“There would be no deal if all pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon were not cut off.” he added.

The preliminary deal reached in Switzerland between the parties specifies that Iran will decrease two thirds of its uranium enrichment centrifuges and limits the level of enrichment to 3.67 percent, which would prevent Iran from making a nuclear bomb. Many of the restrictions will expire in 15 years.

The deal also decreases Iranian uranium stockpiles from 10,000 kilograms to 300 which will be enriched only by Arak Nuclear Reactor under the inspection  of the IAEA.  

In return, the 10-year-deal promises Iran that all UN sanctions on Tehran will end with the country’s fulfilment of the criteria within a planned calendar, after a prospective final deal is put into force.

TRTWorld and agencies