Vienna Nuke Talks: Iran, P5+1 on Extension

November 25, 2014

            On November 24, Iran and the world's six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States - agreed to extend discussions on Iran's nuclear program by seven months. Leaders on both sides commended each other's efforts to close gaps on key issues. They were optimistic that the extension could yield a final comprehensive deal. “We would be fools to walk away,” Secretary State John Kerry warned in remarks to the press. "All parties agreed we would maintain momentum, that the negotiations will go on," said British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. In an interview with state television, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, "I am certain that we will reach the final accord, if not today, then tomorrow." The following are excerpted remarks from officials on the decision to extend the talks.

United States
Secretary of State John Kerry
            "President Obama has been just as clear that the best way to do this is through diplomacy, through a comprehensive and durable agreement that all parties can agree to, that all parties are committed to upholding, and whose implementation is not based on trust but on intensive verification.  And that is not just because diplomacy is the preferred course; it is also the most effective course.
            "Diplomacy is also difficult.  These talks are [not] going to suddenly get easier just because we extend them.  They’re tough and they’ve been tough and they’re going to stay tough.  If it were easier, if views on both sides weren’t as deeply held as they are, then we’d have reached a final agreement months or even years ago.  But in these last days in Vienna, we have made real and substantial progress, and we have seen new ideas surface.  And that is why we are jointly – the P5+1, six nations and Iran – extending these talks for seven months with the very specific goal of finishing the political agreement within four months and with the understanding that we will go to work immediately, meet again very shortly.  And if we can do it sooner, we want to do it sooner.
            "At the end of four months, we have not agreed on the major – if we have not agreed on the major elements by that point in time and there is no clear path, we can revisit how we then want to choose to proceed.
            "Now we believe a comprehensive deal that addresses the world’s concerns is possible.  It is desirable.  And at this point, we have developed a clearer understanding of what that kind of deal could look like, but there are still some significant points of disagreement, and they have to be worked through.
            "Now I want to underscore that even as the negotiations continue towards a comprehensive deal, the world is safer than it was just one year ago.  It is safer than we were before we agreed on the Joint Plan of Action, which was the interim agreement.
            "One year ago, Iran’s nuclear program was rushing full speed toward larger stockpiles, greater uranium enrichment capacity, the production of weapons-grade plutonium, and ever shorter breakout time.  Today, Iran has halted progress on its nuclear program and it has rolled it back for the first time in a decade.
            "So our experts will meet again very soon.  In fact, we will have a meeting in December as soon as possible in order to continue this work and to drive this process as hard as we can.  And as the parties continue to negotiate, all of the current restraints on the nuclear program in Iran will remain in place."

            Nov. 24, 2014 in a press briefing

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
            “[Iranian negotiators] have been firm, have not caved in and are seriously trying hard.”
            “If the negotiations do not yield results, it is America that will be the loser, as they need these talks to solve their domestic problems.”
            Nov. 27, 2014 according to the press


President Hassan Rouhani

            “Negotiations will lead to a deal, sooner or later.”
            "I am certain that we will reach the final accord, if not today, then tomorrow."
            “We have neither compromised over Iran’s nuclear rights, nor will ever do so, and there is no doubt that the Iranian nuclear technology will remain functioning.”
            “At present, no one in the world has any doubt that Iran must have nuclear technology, including enrichment on its soil.”
            "I promise the Iranian people that the centrifuges (enrichment machines) will not stop spinning, but ... people's lives must continue to get better day by day.”
            “There is no doubt that sanctions will be lifted. The question is timing.”
            Nov. 24, 2014 in a speech to the Iranian people (via Associated Press, Sky News, The Islamic Republic News Agency, Press TV, Today’s Zaman, and Reuters)

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
            “I do not believe that anybody any longer questions Iran’s enrichment program. We believe that right of Iran to peaceful nuclear energy, including uranium enrichment, is enshrined in the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), which does not require anybody’s recognition. The right is there. What is important is for Iran to be able to implement that right, to exercise that right without the threat of sanctions and pressure which are, in our view, illegal.” 
            “We have always said that Iran has no strategic interest in nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons don’t serve our strategic interests. Nuclear weapons are against every principle of our faith and our beliefs.”
            “We seek to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”
            “The sanctions are not only misguided… but are totally ineffective. Sanctions do not resolve the problem.”
            “Only, and I stress, only a negotiated resolution” can solve the dispute.
            “We believe that a negotiated resolution is within reach.”
            “My delegation has shown extreme flexibility and reasonableness. It’s not that our hands are tied. Of course all of us have national security considerations, have considerations about our rights, our dignity, our respect, which is not for negotiation.”
            “We consider it in our interest to defuse and to defeat all these Iranophobic attempts to securitize the Iranian peaceful nuclear program."
            Nov. 24, 2014 to the press in Vienna (via Press TV and BuzzFeed)
Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi
            “The issue of enrichment and its limits, extent and capacity, as well as the mechanisms needed for the removal of sanctions are two key issues.”
            “In addition, there are also several other issues that might not be among the key issues, but are sufficiently important and if they are not resolved, we will not reach any agreement.”
            "The result of the negotiations will be something which would meet our redlines and safeguard whatever we have, enrichment will continue and certainly all sanctions will be annulled in the form and sequence (that they have been imposed).”
            Nov. 25, 2014 in an interview with state-run TV
            “In the past months $7 billion of Iran’s frozen assets was released and within the coming months, the figure will be about $5 billion.”
            “Our nuclear scientists in the negotiating team very well presented scientific solutions to address these concerns and were able to convince the other side that the solution works.”
            “We are in a direction where we hope to get results in any case and on the lifting of the sanctions, solutions are also provided and we are working on them."
            Nov. 25, 2014 according to the press

Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari
            "It became evident that the US is not trustworthy.”
            "Today we can resolutely say that our people have found out that standing up and resistance against the enemies are the secret of our success.”
            "Resistance was once just seen in Iran, but it has now spread to the Mediterranean coasts and close to the Zionists (Israel) … and they are afraid of this issue, but they cannot do anything."
            Nov. 26, 2014 in address to Baiji forces in Kerman
Basij Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi
            "Our minimum right is that we can produce fuel for our nuclear power plants and no one is allowed to withdraw from this position."
            "The sanctions should be removed, otherwise there would remain no reason for negotiation."
            Dec. 1, 2014 according to the press
United Kingdom
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
            "We have had to conclude it is not possible to get to an agreement by the deadline that was set for today and therefore we will extend the JPOA to June 30, 2015.”
            Nov. 24, 2014 according to the press
            We can’t afford to stop now...All parties agreed we would maintain momentum, that the negotiations will go on. There will be further meetings in December and our clear target is to reach a headline agreement, an agreement on substance in the next three months or so.”
            “I think we are beginning to understand each other and each other’s positions and the challenges that we all face. Everyone is going to have to show some flexibility to get an agreement”
            Nov. 24, 2014 according to the press

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
            “We are negotiating here with the ambition to reach an agreement.”
            "If this task should not be completed, one definitely would need to look at opportunities so that the road does not end here, but that the negotiating process can be continued.”
            Nov. 23, 2014 according to the press
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
            "We have a final deadline of tomorrow night to find an agreement, but it has to be positive and enables us to work for peace. There are still differences to resolve."
            Nov. 23, 2014 according to the press
            “On the question of limiting [Iran’s] enriching capacity—very complicated discussions—I found there had been a certain movement.”
            “Talks accelerated in the last period...There is a will to find an agreement I hadn’t felt in the past.”
            Nov. 25, 2014 according to the press
President Vladimir Putin
            “It matters that the negotiations lead to Iran’s achievement of its rights, especially in the area of enrichment, and enrichment on its own soil is Iran’s right.”
            “[Iran and the P5+1] lacked only time for reaching a comprehensive agreement.”
            Nov. 24, 2014 according to the press