Iran nuclear talks approach critical point

iran talksLandmark talks to try and break years of dispute over Iran’s ambitious nuclear programme approached a critical point on Sunday as world leaders converged on the Swiss lakeside city of Lausanne.

Wang Yi of China joined Laurent Fabius of France, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Federica Mogherini of the EU and John Kerry of the US in the push to reach a final agreement with Tehran.

Philip Hammond of the UK and Sergei Lavrov of Russia joined late in the day. Their presence is being read as a bellwether of the proximity of an agreement.

Discussions have reached the “endgame”, Mr Steinmeier told reporters earlier in the weekend.

Despite significant momentum, with agreement reached in principle on many of the key points of a deal, diplomats say they are cautious on the likely outcome. They have repeatedly stressed that no deal will be announced unless it covers all subjects to the satisfaction of all parties.

There remains no certainty over whether that will be possible, one senior European official told the Financial Times, stressing that nothing was solved until everything was.

An indication of the complexity of the negotiations is that the deal being worked towards is merely an interim political agreement, albeit a comprehensive one, aimed at signalling significant progress to sceptical hawks in the US Congress and hardliners in Tehran. If an agreed position is reached in the next few days, the final agreement will be inked at the end of June, assuming the three months of technical fine-tuning goes to plan.

What form the political agreement will take is unclear: some negotiators in Lausanne have referred to a brief written “fact sheet”. Others believe it could be a simple joint statement.

One UK official noted that if too much is written down it would give critics material to pull apart, but if too little was divulged, it would ring hollow.

The phasing of trade embargo relief for Iran, and specifically the demand for rapid lifting of UN sanctions emerged as a key sticking point to any deal, with neither side showing signs of backing down.

Keeping the UN sanctions regime in place has been a red line for world powers, represented by the P5+1, the five permanent members of the security council plus Germany. They regard it as the cornerstone of their isolationist policy towards Iran, and vital to being able to ratchet up pressure should Tehran renege on a deal.

Mr Steinmeier told reporters late on Sunday that while an agreement was possible it would only be achievable if Iran showed significantly more “flexibility” on the question of sanctions relief.

Other unresolved issues include research into new, more advanced centrifuges for enrichment and what nuclear activities Iran may be allowed after the initial 10 years of any settlement.

The pressure to reach an agreement is high. As security conditions worsen in the Middle East, the Iran nuclear talks offer a rare opportunity for diplomacy to resolve one of the region’s most intractable disputes.

For years, the Islamic Republic has insisted it has the right to peaceably enrich its own uranium. World powers say the nuclear programme is designed to build atomic weapons. After repeatedly failing to comply with inspection requests by the International Atomic Energy Agency, however, Iran’s position grew steadily more untenable. In 2012, the international community imposed sweeping new sanctions against Tehran that have brought the country’s economy to its knees.

A deal with Tehran is one of the main foreign policy objectives for US President Barack Obama. But the prospect of nuclear detente with the Islamic regime has also invited fierce criticism, alienating regional allies of the west in Israel and the Gulf region.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, told his cabinet on Sunday that the agreement, “as it appears, confirms all of our concerns and even more so”.

With a deal so close, both sides of the negotiating table are now calling for the other to make concessions in a final push.

“In negotiations, both sides must show flexibility. We have, and are ready to make a good deal for all. We await our counterparts’ readiness,” tweeted Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister.

Financial Times

  • Rudy1947

    Don’t see the significance of all this talk about economic advantages of letting Iran out of it’s cage. There’s always somebody who will pick up the slack.
    If Iran is determined to build a nuke, they will. These talks will deter, but not prevent.
    Also, I believe Iran already has a few “screwdriver ready” nukes and are also working on the transportation of those nukes.
    1960’s all over again.

    • 5thDrawer

      Considering that many of these ‘planners’ are out of that ’50-60′ time period, and that ‘the world’ (yah, I know, a generality;-)) also knows from experience MUCH more about ‘radiation’ from various ‘small’ events, and that world background radiation has increased as well, one would have to wonder at any ‘Peoples’ willing to expand on the whole effort, in a time-period when technology can provide electricity in less expensive or harmful ways – for all life on a planet – and I don’t mean the oil or coal, although tech applies ‘scrubbers’ for those now too. What was programmed into those old heads by that time-period?
      Arguing about numbers of centrifuges (not many needed for electric fuel manufacture – more only increases speed of producing it) is an indicator, of course, about a desire to do more with the stuff than turn on a light bulb … and in a place brimming with sunshine and wind still blowing, because the planet does in fact rotate, there can be only one reason – a suicidal desire for self destruction. And all because of a ‘belief’ that a prophecy should be fulfilled … a logical impossibility if all life dies.
      The premise of creating an Atomic Energy Watchdog was to assure safety … and yet, even that has not foreseen some small glitches … on occasion … over time. Waiting 24,000 years for some ‘cooling’ to take effect isn’t going to help much before maybe turning on a light-bulb again with a cleaner supply.
      Although, even with one centrifuge, in that time-length, bomb-ready material could probably be made in sufficient quantity to make the next 100,000 years unliveable.
      ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ …. I think a lot of those old heads suffered concussions diving under the desks in school, which was the advice of that time, to protect themselves from A-bomb Attacks.

    • MekensehParty

      Some in Iran are determined to build a nuke, but they’re not the majority.
      The majority has proven that it wants peace and less misery.
      The Iranian nuclear chapter is over, whether the deal is agreed upon or not, the people of Iran have spoken and their message was heard. All of this now (including the military defeats on the various fronts) is to weaken the minority hardliners in the hope of a smooth transition. But the transition is coming the smooth or the hard way.

  • 5thDrawer

    Everybody wants their noses ‘in the business’ these days. Makes it all impossible.
    “One UK official noted that if too much is written down it would give critics material to pull apart, but if too little was divulged, it would ring hollow.”

    Well, you are supposed to trust your ‘team’ of negotiators to do the best they can, since they were given the parameters at the beginning. As the other ‘side’ of a table does. And then – with the exception of a very few private chats with the bosses who laid out the original parameters – you sit there and explain your positions and refute the other guys. Best salesmen do the best jobs.
    And everyone else in the world is just like farts in a wind-storm. AFTER all is done and out in the open, signed and sealed or not, THEN they can bump their gums – and take aim, or, elect someone for the next rounds they think can come up with better salesmen.

    • O

      Pinocchio is barking about others having their noses in other’s business. Keep going my dear shiteblower

      • whistleblower

        Is that what abouki calls his dick to convince you its a toy? Open your O for Pinocchio’s nose baba

      • man-o-war

        Here is your proof!

        • O

          What proof have you provided? Another taqqiya whore. 5th knows very well he started the attack first so stop being a sti

          • man-o-war

            How does his comment attack you? The comment has nothing to do with you and he’s not even attacking your daesh comrades. Your comment does not respond to his, it doesn’t address the article, its simply a continuation of your moronic attacks. Quit acting like a douche.

          • O

            Dickhead he attacked first. Like YOU said, when one attacks one doesn’t have the right to set rules. Just coz 5th isn’t attacking me in this comment doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to attack him/it back seeing 5th started the attach first. You deceptive shite whore

          • man-o-war

            You’re seriously a complete and utter moron. You low life piece of gutter trash. Get a life, you deranged wombat.