EU Foreign Policy Chief, “Deal Close On Iran’s Nuclear Program”
Diplomats in Vienna are close to clinching a historic deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, according to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
“We are near to close the deal, it is a good deal,” Mr. Mogherini told reporters late Sunday after meetings with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who went Tehran for consultations with his leadership before returning to Vienna.
Mr. Mogherini said both sides have shown the “political will” to finish drafting a long-term accord to limit Iran’s nuclear activities.
Foreign ministers from all 7 nations involved in the talks will gather again in the Austrian capital once a deal has been drafted, said Mr. Mogherini. The negotiations are in their 21st month.
Underscoring progress, 2 diplomats from among the 5P+1 powers negotiating with Iran said the country has agreed to wait for sanctions relief until after United Nations inspectors have verified that curbs are implemented. Final details are to be worked out on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s assessment of the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear work.
That compromise would resolve one of the most contentious issues the negotiators confronted with public statements by Iranian officials who have insisted sanctions relief take effect immediately once a deal is agreed to.
Mr. Mogherini’s upbeat comments contrasted with more cautious remarks by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who said Iran needs to show more “flexibility” and that “tough choices will have to be made by all of us.”
Privately, US and Russian diplomats said progress had been made, but declined to predict when a deal could be finalized.
Mr. Zarif’s brief return to Tehran may indicate that he is engaging Iran’s senior leaders in final consultations to commit to a deal, said diplomats at the talks.
Iran’s economy is hobbled by international sanctions targeting energy, banking, mining, shipping, ports and an array of other trade that have damaged its economy, even as its nuclear capacities continued to grow.
Sanctions on Iran, including oil and banking restrictions, would be phased out in step with Iranian implementation of the deal, according to several diplomats from two delegations. Negotiations continue on the exact sequencing of sanctions relief and the timing for a UN Security Council resolution that would enshrine the deal and set the path for sanctions relief, they said.
Iranian negotiators have agreed on the phased approach to sanctions relief once the IAEA has verified compliance, Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian-American Council and an advocate for a deal, said in an interview in Vienna.
Mr. Parsi outlined the 3 stages that could result in a face-saving solution that recognizes both sides’ Red lines:
1. an agreement is made,
2. a pause is taken while the US Congress reviews the deal, and,
3. Iran receives sanctions relief after the deal is verifiably implemented.
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