Washington Perspectives


July 02, 2015

Scott M. Flicker, Hamilton Loeb, Charles Patrizia, Behnam Dayanim & Suhas Subramanyam

Foreign Ministers Say Progress, But No Breakthrough, in Nuclear Negotiations

British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond posted on social media today during negotiations that the P5+1 hoped to reach a final deal “in the next few days.” He also downplayed expectations that a deal was near, noting that negotiators were not “at any kind of breakthrough moment yet.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also tempered expectations by calling the ability to reach a final agreement an “open question,” while French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius remarked that “there are some points where there has been progress, but on others not yet.” But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi struck a more optimistic tone, telling reporters that “there is a high possibility” that a deal will be reached and “the parties concerned will arrive at a fair, balanced and just agreement.”

Head diplomats from Iran and all of the P5+1 but Russia were in attendance Thursday along with Yukiya Amano, head of the U.N International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Foreign ministers will be coming in and out of Vienna this weekend to, as Hammond described, “maintain the momentum” of negotiations with the July 7 deadline approaching. While Secretary of State John Kerry will likely stay in Vienna, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius left Vienna after negotiations ended Thursday and said he would not return until Sunday, making it unlikely that a deal will get done before then.

Iran Discusses Inspections with IAEA, Claims July 7 Is Not Its Deadline

When asked about the new July 7 deadline announced by the P5+1, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told reportersduring a break in negotiations Thursday that Iran “did not set any deadline” for reaching an agreement and “plans to use every opportunity to make progress.” He was meeting with IAEA Director Yukiya Amano, whom Zarif said Iran had invited to help find common ground on the issue of inspecting military sites. Zarif noted that parties had made progress on that and several other issues Thursday.
Another senior Iranian official, speaking anonymously, told reporters that issues remain about detailing what access, if any, U.N. inspectors should have to military sites and Iranian scientists. He confirmed that Iran has agreed to follow the Additional Protocol, but disagreements remain about when and how inspectors could visit military sites. However, he emphasized that “it is manageable to bridge the gaps,” and that “some of the issues which were difficult at the beginning [of this week]…are now almost resolved.”

Deal Could Lead to Improved U.S.-Iran Relations

The senior Iranian official also told reporters today that “there will be opportunities in the future for both Iran and the United States” to repair relations. He believed that while speculation on repairing relations was premature, there could be other opportunities for potential cooperation moving forward if the two sides could agree on a nuclear deal.

However, his optimism comes within a few weeks of the U.S. State Department releasing two separates reports condemning Iran. One called Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, and another accusing Iran of several human rights abuses, including restrictions on civil liberties and political violence.

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