News / Middle East

Ministers Press Iran on Nuclear Program

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks to the media on his way to a meeting at a hotel in Vienna, July 13, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks to the media on his way to a meeting at a hotel in Vienna, July 13, 2014.
Al Pessin

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and three of his European counterparts have joined talks in Vienna to press Iran for more concessions on its nuclear program, as next Sunday’s deadline looms.

Secretary Kerry flew into Vienna overnight from Afghanistan to join the discussions and meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.  Kerry arrived shortly after a senior U.S. official involved in the talks told reporters some of Iran’s positions are “inadequate and unworkable.”
 
Officials say an agreement on long-term limits on Iran’s nuclear program and an end to international economic sanctions is 70 percent finished, but that significant gaps remain on key issues.  Those are believed to include how much capacity Iran will retain to enrich uranium, a potential fuel for nuclear bombs, and how long the restrictions will last.  
 
Arriving for the talks Sunday morning, Secretary Kerry described the situation this way.
 
“Obviously we have some very significant gaps still.  So we need to see if we can make some progress and I really look forward to a very substantive and important set of meetings and dialogues.  This is a very important subject.  It is vital to make certain that Iran is not going to develop a nuclear weapon, that their program is peaceful,” he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for good faith on both sides in the negotiations, saying that "trust is a two-way street."
 
The U.N. Security Council deputized its five permanent members - the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China - plus Germany to negotiate with Iran on measures to guarantee that its nuclear program is purely peaceful, as Iran says it is.
 
But Iran has violated past agreements on the nuclear program, ignored resolutions from the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and pursued secret military nuclear research.  
 
So the international community wants strict, verifiable controls to ensure that if Iran does decide to build a nuclear bomb, the project could not be kept secret and would take a year or more.  That would provide time for diplomatic or, potentially, military moves to stop it.
 
Iran expert Matthew Moran of London’s King’s College says the experience of past failed agreements with Iran is an important factor in these talks.
 
“The international community has learned a lot from its past experience of negotiating with Iran.  So, there is pressure to reach agreement, but I don’t think that an agreement will be rushed.  We’re talking about a lasting solution to one of the key problems on the international security agenda.  And that’s not something that can be taken lightly,” said Moran.

These talks follow a preliminary agreement reached in December that resulted in some rollbacks of Iran’s nuclear program in return for limited relief from economic sanctions.  The two sides agreed to negotiate a comprehensive agreement within six months, giving themselves a July 20th deadline.  They also provided the option of extending the preliminary accord for a further six months to allow more time to settle disagreements.
 
But an extension also creates problems.  Officials are concerned that momentum toward an agreement could be lost, that international sanctions could weaken and that U.S. congressional elections in November could make it harder to get sanctions relief approved.  In addition, Iran has indicated that it wants more easing of sanctions as part of any extension, something U.S. officials say they are not willing to provide.
 
Last year, it took two interventions by foreign ministers to finalize the preliminary agreement.  This is their first visit to these talks, and the Russian and Chinese ministers were not able to get here.  So, the ministers could be back again next weekend for a final push.

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Comment on this forum (2)
Comments
     
by: Nguyễn Văn Ry from: Giao Thủy , Việt nam
July 13, 2014 9:27 AM
I think Iran should consider practically thier policy on the nuclear programe. It may not the best policy to protect themselves


by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, Texas
July 13, 2014 8:16 AM
Really, the very outcome of the Iranian n-talk remains bleak despite sanctions and the talks so far. World does not accept the Iranian n - program as a civiliian one; while, on the other, the Iranian govt. says that is a civil nuclear program, not meant for weapons production. The gap of understanding remains here to be abridged......... and, that yet to materialise between Iran and the world powers. Before the Iranians had started running their own enrichment program, during the Bush administration, president Putin was counseled - all the n - fuel rods should reach Iran from Moscow in number count for the Iranian n - power plants, after exustions, all that should be returned to Moscow. During the presidentship of Mohammed Ahmedinejad, two rounds of talks were held in Moscow. But later, the talks were stopped. Then , the PRC, Russia and ours had joined France, Germany and the UK.
While the Vienna talks starts now - a foreign ministerial summit along with Iran for breaking over a decade of deadlock, the very keenness of the foreign ministers of Big Five and Germany remains in the Iranian centrifuges............it is admittable ..... it is a scientific way to keeping the Iranian n - enrichment process below the threshold of making weapons grade fissile materials. At same time, caution should be - what sort of isotops that the Iranians do make which can be converted into fissile grade once again? Most certainly, the Vienna based IAEA would be the watchdog of the Iranian n - programe....... all the nuclear facilities.
Besides moving in the centrifuge strategy, the top powers could have taken Iran on the way of signing the specific n - non- proliferation treaties; NPT, CTBT and the FMCT. It is admittable while the Big Powers do wriggle still on the centrifuge mechanism, the latter process of signing three treaties with the Iranian govt. would be more difficult process. But caution is there, amongst the currently existing number of n-states (having n- arsenals), if Iran would add itself to this band, one more n-equation, first of its kind, would be added onto the existing ones in this planet; viz, Iran vs Israel. .......... First, the Iranians should officially move in the non- proliferation regime in a technologically verifiable manner, then only, all the sanctions should be lifted which have been stringently biting their economy for last some years. No concessions on the nuclear non- proliferation in perview of peace in the Middle East and entire world.

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