Nuke Talks: Latest from Iran, P5+1

May 28, 2015

On May 27, a new round of nuclear negotiations began in Vienna, Austria between Iran and the world's six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. The negotiators are aiming to turn the blueprint for a deal announced on April 2 into a final agreement by June 30. But Iranian and French officials have recently acknowledged that they may need more time to hammer out the details. “We are not bound to a specific time. We want a good deal that covers our demands,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said ahead of the new round of talks.

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who departed for Vienna on May 27, is set to join Secretary of State John Kerry for meetings with Iranian officials in Geneva, Switzerland on May 30. She will then return to Vienna for further talks with Iran and the other powers.
 
The latest sticking point in the talks has been gaining access to Iran’s military sites as part of a deal. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei initially seemed to rule out the possibility of inspections. But later, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Iran “has agreed to grant managed access to military sites.” And Yukiya Amano, chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that his organization has “the right to request access at all locations, including military ones.” The following are excerpted remarks by officials from the world’s six major powers and the IAEA on the status of the talks.
 
Iran
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 
“If the other side respects what has been agreed in Lausanne and tries to draft, based on mutual respect, a comprehensive agreement with Iran that is sustainable..., then we can meet any deadline.
 
“If people insist on excessive demands, on renegotiation, then it will be difficult to envisage an agreement even without a deadline.
 
“I am hopeful we will reach a final conclusion within a reasonable period of time. In order to do that people need to be realistic, people need to have their foot in reality, not in illusions.
 
“We can only have agreements in which both sides can claim that they have achieved positive results. You need to either win together, or lose together. Iran, with millennia of history, will not be intimidated.”
—May 28, 2015 to the press
 
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi
 
“Iran has agreed to grant managed access to military sites.”
“Americans are after interviewing our nuclear scientists. We didn't accept it.”
—May 24, 2015 to the press
“The deadline might be extended and the talks might continue after the June 30 [deadline]. We are not bound to a specific time. We want a good deal that covers our demands.”
“The talks are serious, complicated and detailed. The pace of talks is slow as we have entered final stages.”
 
“Some solutions have been proposed and we are working on them. For us, the principle of simultaneity is very important.
 
“The final text of the deal will be about 60 pages including 20 pages of the main text and five attachments.
 
“This question [of timing and phasing] is still under discussion. We need a timetable to start implementing the measures that both sides have undertaken, and that may take some months. First of all, we have to wait for – something about two months – for the American Congress and probably Iranian Majlis to review the agreement and decide, and whenever the U.S. government, the European governments and the Iranian government express their readiness to start the implementation of the agreement, we [will] actually start doing what we are supposed to do. And that may take two months before we do anything because of these initiatives by the Congress and Majlis.
 
“So we have already two months of waiting and then we need a timetable that we are still working on that. We should do something, the other side should do something. We insist on the principal of simultaneity. Everything that both sides are supposed to do should be at the same time and simultaneous. Of course, we have some differences here – how to manage that, how to fix everything in a simultaneous way. We’re working on this timetable and this is one of our differences that we have still kept in brackets and we are trying to resolve that.
“It [the agreement] will still be based on the principal that all economic and financial sanctions should be removed at once.”
—May 27, 2015 to the press via Reuters and Press TV
 
“Removal of sanctions in the economic sector is being discussed so that the other side will remove the sanctions structures in a document and declare that if Iran acts upon its undertakings, they will remove the sanctions.”
—May 24, 2015 in a closed-door session of parliament
 
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
 
 
Member of Parliament Ahmad Shoohani
“Managed access will be in a shape where U.N. inspectors will have the possibility of taking environmental samples from the vicinity of military sites.”
—May 24, 2015 to the press
 
France
 
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
 
“France will not accept [a deal] if it is not clear that inspections can be done at all Iranian installations, including military sites.”
—May 27, 2015 to lawmakers in Paris
 
Ambassador to the United States Gerard Araud
 
“It’s very likely that we won’t have an agreement before the end of June or even [right] after.”
“Even if we get the best deal ... afterwards, you will have to translate it into the technical annexes, so it may be ... we could have a sort of fuzzy end to the negotiation.”
—May 26, 2015 at an event in Washington, D.C. via Reuters
 
Germany
 
Ambassador to the United States Peter Wittig
 
“Iran needs some time to start the implementation of this agreement, so in the best case sanctions relief would not happen before the end of this year.”
—May 26, 2015 at an event in Washington, D.C. via Reuters
 
United Kingdom
 
Ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott
 
“My sense is that we are probably not far away from the high-water mark of international sanctions against the Iranian economy.”
—May 26, 2015 at an event in Washington, D.C. via Reuters
 
United States
 
State Department Press Office Director Jeff Rathke
 
“We’re not contemplating an extension beyond June 30th. Again, we’re united among the P5+1 that our efforts are to reach a final deal by the end of June.
 
“Well, in Lausanne, of course, we reached a framework understanding, and we’re working on completing the technical details and elements of that understanding now. So we won’t have a deal until those technical details are done, and – but – and we expect the pace of the talks to continue unabated. But we think we can achieve – achieve that goal.
 
“I don’t have new announcements to make about sanctions relief. As we’ve always said, sanctions relief will depend on completion of the key nuclear-related steps, and that’s what we’ve been saying ever since Lausanne, and that remains our position.
—May 27, 2015 in a press briefing
 
Russia
 
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
 
“There should be nothing automatic in this sphere [sanctions relief].
 
“We should find a formula under which a decision on a hypothetical, possible, potential restoration of sanctions would be made only and solely by the U.N. Security Council through voting, through a resolution.
—May 27, 2015 to Russia-24

 

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
 
Director General Yukiya Amano
 
“When we find inconsistency or when we have doubts we can request access to the undeclared location for example, and this could include military sites.
 
“Some consideration is needed because of the sensitiveness of the site, but the IAEA has the right to request access at all locations, including military ones.
 
“Several months will be needed” to investigate the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear research.
 
“It depends very much on the pace and the intensiveness of the cooperation from Iran. We have identified 12 areas to clarify.
 
It could take years “to give the credible assurance that all activities in Iran have a peaceful purpose.”
 
“This will be the most extensive safeguard operation of the IAEA. We need to prepare well, we need to plan well, it is a huge operation.”
—May 26 in an interview with AFP