Latest on Nuke Talks: What Iran, P5+1 Say

October 28, 2014

           Less than 30 days remain until the November 24 deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and the world's six major powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. Leaders on both sides have noted that there has been progress on key issues and remain hopeful that a deal can be reached before the deadline. Iranian officials have repeatedly emphasized sanctions relief and the right to a peaceful nuclear program. Both sides have claimed that the other will be at fault if a deal is not reached in time. The following are excerpted remarks by officials on the status of the nuclear talks.

United States
President Barack Obama
             “Our number one priority with respect to Iran is making sure they don't get nuclear weapon. And because of the unprecedented sanctions that this administration put forward and mobilized the world to abide by, they got squeezed, their economy tanked, and they came to the table in a serious way for the first time in a very, very long time. We've now had significant negotiations. They have abided by freezing their program and, in fact, reducing their stockpile of nuclear-grade material or-- or weapons-grade nuclear material. And the question now is are we going to be able to close this final gap so that they can reenter the international community, sanctions can be slowly reduced, and we have verifiable, lock-tight assurances that they can't develop a nuclear weapon. There's still a big gap. We may-- may not be able to get there.”
              Nov. 9, 2014 in an interview with CBS News
             “Whether we can actually get a deal done, we’re going to have to find out over the next three to four weeks. We have presented to them a framework that would allow them to meet their peaceful energy needs. And if, in fact, what their leadership says, that they don’t want to develop a nuclear a weapon -- if that is, in fact, true, then they’ve got an avenue here to provide that assurance to the world community, and in a progressive, step-by-step, verifiable way, allow them to get out from under sanctions so that they can reenter as full-fledged members of the international community.
            “But they have their own politics, and there’s a long tradition of mistrust between the two countries. And there’s a sizeable portion of the political elite that cut its teeth on anti-Americanism and still finds it convenient to blame America for every ill that there is. And whether they can manage to say yes to what clearly would be better for Iran, better for the region, and better for the world, is an open question. We’ll find out over the next several weeks.”
            Nov. 5, 2014 in a press conference
Secretary of State John Kerry
            “On the issue of the Iran nuclear talks, we are gearing up and targeting November 24th. We’re not talking about or thinking about going beyond that date. That’s a critical date. And we believe it is imperative for a lot of different reasons to get this done. Most people don’t understand why, if you’re simply trying to show that a program is peaceful, it would take so long. People want to know that the transparency and accountability necessary to get this done is on the table, and we ought to be able to reach agreement. So our press is to try to get this done. And I think that it gets more complicated if you can’t. It’s not impossible if you’re not able to, but I think let’s see what happens when we bear down as we are.
            “An enormous amount of work has gone into this. For months upon months, we’ve had expert teams sitting down, working through details, looking at all of the technical information that is necessary to be able to make a judgment about what the impact of a particular decision is. Some of it’s very complicated, and we’ve tried to reduce it to as simple and understandable a format as possible. And it’s been very constructive. The Iranian team has worked hard and seriously. The conversations have been civil and expert.
            “And my hope is that now is the moment for really political decisions to be made that make a judgment that we can show the world that countries with differing views, differing systems, but with a mutual interest of trying to prove a peaceful program can in fact do that and get the job done. So we’re very hopeful about that, and I have every intent of making myself available and doing everything necessary to try to do that. And I’m confident that Foreign Minister Zarif will likewise make himself available and continue to push forward.”
            Nov. 5, 2014 in a press briefing after meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
SECRETARY KERRY : Well, we’re closer [to a deal] than we were a week ago or 10 weeks ago, but we’re still with big gaps…
AL HUNT: In these next three and a half weeks, do you have any plans to meet with high-level Iranians on this issue?
SECRETARY KERRY: I am meeting on the 9th of November. I will be meeting with the foreign minister directly. We’ll have two days. We will be beginning a slog of going into the last two weeks. Our expert team will be on the ground with a constant process. We’ll be in Vienna for the final days with the P5+1, all of us together trying to come to some kind of an agreement.
AL HUNT: Mr. Secretary, there are reports that the Iranians believe – they’ve indicated to some people that their leverage has been enhanced in these negotiations because of their role in fighting ISIS. Is that a correct reading?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me use this program to deliver a very clear message to the Iranians, which is: This is not a political decision for us. This is a substantive decision based on the proof of a peaceful program. It’s not hard to prove your program is peaceful if that’s what you want to do. So outside leverage, Syria, ISIL, whatever, is not relevant to this. It’s not affecting us one way or the other. We have one set of criteria within our mind.
There are four pathways to a nuclear weapon. One is the secret underground facility known as Fordow, one is the Natanz enrichment facility that is known to everybody, a sort of well-identified building. The third is the Arak, as it is called, plutonium heavy water reactor. And the fourth is the covert, whatever you aren’t sure of because it’s not clear to you, and therefore you need sufficient verification and sufficient transparency to be able to determine that there isn’t that path being pursued. That’s things like, for instance, knowing you have an eye on the production of uranium and how much uranium and where it’s going and how many centrifuges and these kinds of things.
So those four pathways need to be closed off. We’re looking to the Iranians to be as responsible as they have said they will be and as forthcoming as they have promised, which is to be transparent and allow the proof of this peaceful program.
             Oct. 31, 2014 in an interview with Al Hunt of Bloomberg News on the Charlie Rose Show
            “I’m not going to give it odds [successfully brokering a nuclear deal].  As I said to the President recently, I’m not going to express optimism; I’m going to express hope and I think achieving it is critical.  But I will say this to everybody:  We’ve set a very clear standard.  There are four present pathways to a bomb for Iran – the hidden so-called secret facility in a mountain called Fordow, the open Natanz enrichment facility, the plutonium heavy-water reactor called Arak, and then, of course, covert activities.  We’ve pledged that our goal is to shut off each pathway sufficient that we know we have a breakout time of a minimum of a year that gives us the opportunity to respond if they were to try to do that.
            “We believe there are ways to achieve that.  Whether Iran can make the tough decisions that it needs to make will be determined in the next weeks, but I have said consistently that no deal is better than a bad deal.  And we’re going to be very careful, very much based on expert advice, fact, science as to the choices we make.  This must not be a common ideological or a political decision.  And if we can do what we’ve said, what the President set out in his policy – the President said they will not get a bomb.  If we could take this moment of history and change this dynamic, the world would be a lot safer and we’d avoid a huge arms race in the region where Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians, others may decide that if they’re moving towards a bomb, they got to move there too, and obviously it’s a much more dangerous world.  And that is not a part of the world where you want massive uninspected, unverified, nontransparent nuclear activities.  So that’s what we’re trying to do.” 
            Oct. 30, 2014 at the Washington Idea Forums hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic
            “We hope we can get there but we can’t make any predictions.”
            “It’s imperative obviously, that Iran work with us in all possible effort to prove to the world the [nuclear] program is peaceful.”
            Nov. 18, 2014 according to the press
Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman
            “Our bottom line is unambiguous, crystal clear, and, quite frankly, written in stone: Iran will not, shall not obtain a nuclear weapon.”
            “If [a deal] does not happen, the responsibility will be seen by all to rest with Iran.”
            “Such a plan, if fully implemented, would give confidence that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and would enable the Iranian people to look forward to a much brighter future.”
            “We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text. However, like any complicated and technically complex diplomatic initiative, this is a puzzle with many interlocking pieces.”
            Oct. 23, 2014 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki
            “We’re still very focused on making progress and seeing if we can get a deal done before the deadline in all of our meetings. There’s still time to do so. This was an opportunity to have follow-on discussions with Secretary Kerry, EU High Representative Ashton, Foreign Minister Zarif. They had two lengthy meetings yesterday; two today as well. The discussions have been tough, direct, and serious. And as you know, the political directors will continue to stay in Oman for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time. They’ll be reconvening, of course, for the already-announced round of meetings that are next week in Europe.”
            Nov. 10, 2014 in a daily press briefing
U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken
            "Right now, I think it's going to be difficult to get to where we want to go. It's not impossible."
            "It depends entirely on whether Iran is willing to take the steps it must take to convince us, to convince our partners, that its program would be for entirely peaceful purposes...As we speak, we're not there."
            Nov. 19, 2014 in a statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
President Hassan Rouhani
            "Tehran has taken highly positive steps in the nuclear talks with the P5+1 and if the negotiating sides also [prove to] have the necessary political will in this regard, reaching a comprehensive agreement will be possible within the next month."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
            "Iran has made its utmost efforts...and made the necessary adjustments to its demands and we hope that all the P5+1 countries, particularly the US, which occasionally seeks excessive demands in the nuclear talks, will understand the circumstances."
            "If the P5+1  and certain countries pursue a goal to impede Iran's development and are looking for a pretext, this issue is impossible and our nation will never give up the path of development and its rights."
            "This issue is not legal and rational and all the P5+1 members should heed the long-term interests of countries and the region."
            Nov. 12, 2014, according to the press
            "If the other side negotiating with the Islamic Republic of Iran has the political will for an agreement and does not make excessive demands, the situation is ripe for achieving a deal."
            Nov. 20, 2014 according to the press

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
             “If the Western side can trust that our aim is peaceful and they don’t have political motives, now is a good time to set the framework of the agreement.”
            Nov. 8, 2014, according to the press
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran has always had a peaceful nuclear program and in line with the religious decree issued by the Leader banning use and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction, WMD has no place in our defense doctrine.”
            “If Western countries are ensured that our nuclear program seeks peaceful ends and if they abandon political adventurism, this is a propitious time to hammer out a deal.”
            “There are some strong solutions, and what prevented an agreement were political reservations by the P5+1 negotiators; we still hope to reach a solution with all these technicalities.”
            Nov. 9, 2014 according to the press
            “It is important for the West to understand that sanctions have never contributed to the resolution of this issue, sanctions are not a part of a solution, sanctions are the most important part of the problem, they're illegal in nature, they must be removed, they have not produced any positive result.
            “The only thing that sanctions have produced for the West are about 19,000 centrifuges.”
            Nov. 10, 2014, according to the press
            “The issue of sanctions and its margins will fail to overshadow the will of the Iranian nation to preserve their rights in using peaceful nuclear energy.”
            Nov. 11, 2014, in a meeting with Omani Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmoud
            "If, because of excessive demands ... we don't get a result, then the world will understand that the Islamic Republic sought a solution, a compromise and a constructive agreement and that it will not renounce its rights and the greatness of the nation.”
            Nov. 18, 2014 according to the press
            “As we have said since the very first day, if the other side shows political will for reaching a solution, numerous proposals exist and have been raised to make sure that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.”
            “We had good talks and decided on how to continue negotiations in the coming days and the rest depends on the political will to achieve results.”
            Nov. 20, 2014 according to the press
Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Seyed Abbas Araghchi
            "All nuclear capabilities of Iran will be preserved and no facility will be shut down or even suspended, and no device or equipment will be dismantled."
            “We will not retreat one iota from the country’s nuclear rights, but we are fully ready for transparency and confidence-building.”
            “All sanctions should be lifted and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept even a single instance of sanctions to remain in place under a [final] comprehensive nuclear deal.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
            “Neither of the negotiating parties is interested in extending [the deadline of] the talks. All sides are determined to achieve an agreement prior to the deadline. Therefore, extension is not on the agenda of any of the parties.”
            Oct. 26, 2014 according to the press
            “It is not clear if negotiations will reach a conclusion within the specified time frame” unless the other side gives up its “illogical excessive demands.”
            “Undoubtedly, trying to launch negotiations through media instead of [from behind] the negotiating table will not only make matters more difficult for progress in talks and reaching a comprehensive agreement, but it will also make it more difficult to continue on the current path particularly when it is accompanied by illogical excessive demands.”
            “We also believe that both sides have a real opportunity which may not be available again. We are sure that if the other side is genuine and committed to its claim to make sure Iran’s nuclear energy program is peaceful, then reaching this goal is not very difficult. ”
            “There will be no damage to the country’s research and development and, more importantly, industrial enrichment will continue with force and within the framework of the country’s needs. At the same time, all sanctions must be lifted and eliminated; and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept any sanctions within the framework of a comprehensive nuclear deal – not even one.”
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran has entered negotiations based on a fundamental premise against all weapons of mass destructions including nuclear weapons. This is based on the Fatwa of the Supreme Leader and (Iran) will continue with goodwill until a final conclusion is reached.”
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to Iran’s Nuclear Energy page
            "Iran's negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) is progressing on a hard path with ups and downs and there is no bright perspective envisaged for its ending by the deadlines."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
“After hours of discussions, we are not still in a position to say whether we have made progress, nor are we in the position to say there has been a setback.”
            “Every subject being mooted, entails lateral issues and complications like the technical, legal and political issues.”
            “We will keep making our efforts and the positive point is that all sides are serious and the demand to reach the deal is serious for all parties.”
            Nov. 10, 2014, according to the press
            “Negotiations and discussions during the past two days were very useful. But we are not still in a position to say that we have made progress. It’s yet to be done in the coming days. We would be available as much as needed here in Oman or in any other places before the deadline of November 24. We are still hopeful.”
            A deal will require “lots of goodwill by all parties and of course readiness to make difficult decisions.”
            “It’s a fact that based on a possible comprehensive solution all the sanctions should be lifted. Iran would certainly continue its enrichment, but the question is the capacity of this enrichment which should be determined based on our practical needs and that would be something we are very hopeful to come to at the end of these negotiations.”
            Nov. 10, 2014 to Press TV
            “All parties are serious about the talks and we intend to hold as many meetings as needed by the deadline.”
            Nov. 12, 2014, according to Mehr News
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani
            “Unfortunately, the West’s double-standard approach to disarmament has not helped [efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation].”
            Oct. 29, 2014 In a meeting with Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson
            “As regards the nuclear issue, Iran believes in continued negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the framework of the restoration of all its rights and respect for the existing laws.”
            Oct. 29, 2014 In a meeting with Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson
            “Lifting all cruel sanctions and [Iran’s] entitlement to full legal rights within the framework of the NPT must be included in any agreement [on Tehran’s nuclear energy program].”
            “Internal divisions within [other] countries and [their] excessive demands will have no impact on the will of the Iranian negotiating team”
            “If the opposite side has a rational and apolitical approach based on realities, it will be possible to reach an agreement in the nuclear talks.”
            Nov. 16, 2014, in a meeting with a member of the central committee of China’s communist party
Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari
            “We will not give up an iota of our rights and the Islamic Revolution values in the nuclear negotiations.”
            “If, God willing, the talks reach a conclusion, everyone will see that we have not given up [our nuclear rights].”
            “We want all sanctions to be lifted.”
            Nov 18, 2014 according to the press
Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iran’s Majlis Alaeddin Boroujerdi
            “If this [final] agreement is not signed, it is as clear as day that the excessive demands of Americans have been the factor behind the failure of the negotiations.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
            “The fact that recent negotiations, including Muscat talks, failed to bear any results is due to extra demands of the US and unfair sanctions they insist not to be removed all at once.”
            “All sanctions should be removed at once, as they are on the pretext of a nuclear issue”
            Nov. 15, 2014, according to the press
Senior advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati
            “We are confident that in the end, even if Iran-P5+1 negotiations last for a long time, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be the winner.”
            “Iran's stance is that it plans to benefit from peaceful nuclear energy within the framework of international regulations and supervision.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press  
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
            “Negotiations are moving in a difficult path with many ups and downs.”
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to
Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not agree to the sanctions being removed one by one.”
            “The West must remove the sanctions against Iran all at once.”
            Oct. 28, 2014 according to the press
            “If the westerners are really after settling Iran's nuclear issue, they shouldn’t seek excuses and should try to cope with Iran's realities.”
            “We are not thinking about extending the negotiations as we are trying to reach the desirable results in the specified period of time (left to the deadline).”
            Oct. 28, 2014 according to the press
            "We definitely are at a critical stage. There is not very much time left before Nov. 24 and the issues remain more or less the same."
            "If we cannot come to a conclusion by Nov. 24, I am sure that those who are performing an objective analysis of the situation definitely will not blame Iran for the possible lack of progress, because Iran has shown its determination to finish the job."
            "Enrichment is one [of the main points of contention], of course, and the sanctions, but we also talk about [the] Arak [research reactor] and a number of other things about which we have to come to an agreement. In our judgment the Americans do not want to appreciate what's happening on the ground in Iran as far as the nuclear capabilities and capacities are concerned. We have about 20,000 centrifuges, almost half of which are producing nuclear material, the other half are only spinning. We can't just turn back the clock and say, "now we are in 2005" and are offering what we have offered then."
            "You have to keep the status quo! But we are ready to accept some limits to our activities for a specific period of time. And after that specific time we need to be treated like any other member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."
            Nov. 10, 2014 in an interview with
Spiegel Online
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi
            Recent agreement between Iran and Russia for construction of two power plants and the protocol to produce nuclear fuel in Iran “will make our stances stronger in talks with Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany.”
            Nov. 20, 2014 according to The Iran Project
Member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Avaz Heidarpour
            "The US is looking for troubling the talks, but Iran is committed to negotiations to resolve its nuclear standoff with the West."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
Member of the Presiding Board of Iran’s Majlis Hossein Sobhani-Nia
            “The Islamic Republic has never accepted the issue of suspension, but the removal of sanctions has been the key issue for us.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
            “The foreign policy chiefs noted that talks on the settlement of the situation around Iran’s nuclear program have real chances to lead to concrete agreements, but additional efforts must be applied.”
            Oct. 24, 2014 according to The Iran Project
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
            “The organizational meeting of international mediators in Vienna on November 7 has helped us to move forward in this direction.”
            “All participants [of the meeting] voiced additional proposals. We are determined to put it all together in such a way that key compromises could be reached before the deadline [on November 24].”
            Nov. 7, 2014 after a meeting with negotiators from the P5+1 countries

United Kingdom
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
            "I'm not optimistic that we can get everything done by Monday [November 24]."
            "But I think if we make some significant movement we may be able to find a way of extending the deadline to allow us to get to the final deal if we're making a good progress in the right direction."
            "We do very much want to see a deal done with Iran, but we don't want to do a bad deal. Better then no deal than a bad deal."
            "The right deal with Iran has to be one which gives us the assurance we need that Iran's program is exclusively targeted at civil nuclear use, has no military dimension at all and where Iran's enrichment capacity is limited to a level which does not present any military threat."
            Nov. 19, 2014 according to the press
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
            "We want a deal, but important points of difference remain."
            "We hope that we can reduce those in the coming days, but that will depend on the attitude of the Iranians."
            Nov. 20, 2014 in a joint statement with John Kerry at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Paris