Nuke Talks: Latest from Iran, P5+1

February 6, 2015

Iran and the world’s six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States – held a series of nuclear talks in January and February. Negotiators offered few details, but some officials remained optimistic. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the two sides had made “substantial progress.” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said a nuclear deal is “still possible if there is a will.” Despite opposition from Iranian hardliners, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared support for a potential nuclear deal on February 8. "I will go along with any agreement that could be made. Of course, if it is not a bad deal," he said.

The two sides held talks in Geneva in January, planning to meet again in February with the aim of agreeing on a framework by late March. Separately, Iranian negotiators met with officials from France, Germany, and Britain in Istanbul in late January. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 23, and later on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on February 7. Kerry commented after his meeting with Zarif that another extension of the talks would likely be "impossible."
 
The following are quotes from officials on the status of the nuclear talks.
 

Iran

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

"I would go along with any agreement that could be made. Of course, if it is not a bad deal. No agreement is better than an agreement which runs contrary to our nation's interests."

"As the president said, negotiations mean reaching a common point. Therefore, the other party ... should not expect its illogical expectations to be materialized. This means that one side would not end up getting all it wants."

"I am for reaching a good settlement and the Iranian nation too will certainly not oppose any deal to uphold its dignity and integrity."

"Our (nuclear) negotiators are trying to take the weapon of sanctions away from the enemy. If they can, so much the better. If they fail, everyone should know there are many ways at our disposal to dull this weapon."
 
"[Any deal] must be concluded in one stage and consist of clear and detailed specifications, and not subject to (various) interpretations."
 
"Given our past experience in dealing with the [West], a final draft must not leave any room for the other side to repeatedly extract concessions."

 – Feb. 8, 2015, according to the press

President Hassan Rouhani

“You [the West] who have built an atom bomb, and have given the criminal occupying Zionist regime the atom bomb, have you been able to create security for yourselves and this regime with these bombs?”
 
“We don’t need an atom bomb. We have a great, devoted and united nation. We have a dear youth that, despite all the pressure and sanctions, launched a satellite into space,” referring to the launch of the Fajr satellite on February 3, Iran's first satellite launch since 2012.
 
“The Iranian nation is not afraid of threats and sanctions and has continued the development of the country and will continue it with power.”
 
"The Iranian people passed all the obstacles and challenges over the past 36 years and the government will pass current problems under the leadership guidance and support.”
 – Feb. 4, 2015, in a speech in Isfahan
Translations via president.ir, The Guardian, and Al-Monitor
 
“Iran’s nuclear program and negotiations was also a subject matter in the meeting; the negotiators have the system’s mandate and are endorsed by it; we have come close to better parts of negotiations and hitting an agreement, where West feels that it should respect Iran’s nuclear rights; however the gaps are still large, we have worked to bring together the two sides.”
– Feb. 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 
Any agreement should be “acceptable” and recognize the Iranian people’s “rights and dignity.”
 
“What is clear is the fact that Iran has not sought nuclear weapon and has no problem to prove that the country’s nuclear program will not lead to building weapon.”
– Jan. 24, 2015, according to the press
 
“Iran’s nuclear energy is not a security issue but rather the country’s rights to obtaining technology.”
 
“At the moment, both sides have agreed on the two issues of Iran’s right to enrichment and the ending of sanctions; none of our nuclear facilities is going to be shut down, the sanctions are going to be lifted, and IAEA supervision of implementation of the Geneva agreement will continue.”
– Jan. 28, 2015, according to the press
 
"We have an agreement that has the prospect of reaching a comprehensive agreement.”
 
"If someone comes to torpedo (the agreement), I believe (the person or entity) should be isolated by the international community, whether it's the US Congress or anybody else."
 
"Now is the time for the international community to stand firm against (the threat of new sanctions)that will unravel an extremely important achievement."
 
"There are all sorts of possibilities and I don't want to entertain them because I believe there is a possibility, a very good probability of reaching an agreement and we should not waste that opportunity."
– Jan. 23, 2015, according to the press
 
“If they [P5+1] want to reach agreement, they need to be realistic.”
 
“The other side should know that Iranians will never bow to pressure, so if they want to reach an agreement they need to lift the pressures.”
 
“The negotiations have reached a critical level. We are currently talking about the details.”
 
“If we don’t reach an agreement by the deadline, the talks won’t be extended anymore.”
 – Jan. 28, 2015, according to the press
 
"Everybody has taken every necessary measure to make sure we succeed. All Iranians know this. If we fail, and I hope we won't, they (Iranians) will not consider us responsible for that failure. They will consider attempts (to ask) too much from Iran as a reason for failure."
 
"I don't think if we don't have an agreement [by the June 30 deadline] it will be the end of the world."
 – Feb. 8, 2015, according to the press
 
“Reaching an agreement requires the political will of the other side and if such a resolve is shown, we can reach an agreement now, but if the other side does not show to have this resolve, we will not obtain results even if the negotiations continue for 10 years.”
  – Feb. 11, 2015, according to the press
 
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi
 
"The talks were very useful, positive and promising but still we are not in a position to say we made progress.”
 
"While discussing details ... we face more diversity of views.”
 
"We can reach an agreement if all the parties involved show strong political will to end this issue."
– Jan. 29, 2015, in a statement to the press after meeting with British, French, and German officials in Istanbul
 

United States

President Barack Obama

"I have very real differences with Prime Minister Netanyahu over Iran and the need for more sanctions."
 – Feb. 9, 2015, according to the press

Secretary of State John Kerry

"The only chance I can see of an extension at this point in time would be you really have the outlines of the agreement."

"But if we're not able to make the fundamental decision that have to be made over the next weeks, literally, I think it will be impossible to extend."

"I don't think you want to extend at that point. Either you make the decision to prove your program is a peaceful one or, if you're unable to do that, it may tell a story that none of us want to hear."
 – Feb. 8, 2015, in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press

Russia

President Vladimir Putin

"Substantial progress" has been made in the negotiations.

"The crucial point is that nobody should try to derive unilateral benefit from the situation or to bargain out more than what is needed for a balanced and just resolution of this complicated issue."
 – Feb. 9, 2015, according to the press

“Our position is based on a belief that Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear activity including uranium enrichment, naturally under control of the IAEA."

“I can say with no exaggeration that Russia makes a significant contribution to the settlement of the situation around the Iranian nuclear program.”

“It was not an easy task to convince our partners from the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council plus Germany) to agree with this approach. At first, we continuously asked all the parties involved to sit down at the negotiating table and start a serious discussion of the ways to resolve this problem.”
 
“We tried to convince them that there was no alternative to the political and diplomatic settlement. Then, we proposed a conceptual framework to advance along this way – the principles of the stage-by-stage movement and reciprocity. And such an approach was supported by all the participants in the process."
 
“We expect the efforts in this field to be continued. The crucial point is that nobody should try to derive unilateral benefit from the situation or to bargain out more than what is needed for a balanced and just resolution of this complicated issue."
 – Feb. 9, 2015, according to the press
 

Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel

"For a fairly long period of time we have had sanctions in place [in Iran]; people don't seem to question them.  And I think they have been fairly successful, if we look at the current state of affairs with the negotiations on the nuclear program.  So I think, in parallel, I think it was a very good thing to put some costs onto the Russians through these sanctions that we agreed on because we see also that Russia seems to be influenced by this.  And this is why I am a hundred percent behind these decisions."
 – Feb. 9, 2015, in a joint press conference with President Obama

China

State Councilor Yang Jiechi

“We face a major opportunity in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. China is ready to enhance communication and cooperation with relevant parties to work for the early conclusion of a just, balanced and comprehensive agreement.”
 – Feb. 6, 2015, according to the press

United Kingdom

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond