US, Iran struggle to speed up nuclear deal

Geneva __ US and Iranian negotiators have worked intensively here all week to try to draft a joint document to speed up nuclear deal talks, but are not expected to present the document at a meeting with six world powers on Sunday Jan. 18, diplomatic sources told Al-Monitor.

“Not this round,” a diplomat involved in the talks told Al-Monitor Jan. 17, in response to a query whether a document that US and Iranian negotiators have been working on here this week would be presented to the other members of the P5+1–the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

The document the US and Iranians have been working to draft is called the Principles of Agreement, diplomatic sources said, and is evidently an element of the framework agreement that Iran and the P5+1 have sought to complete by March.

Both US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who met twice this past week in Geneva and Paris, earlier expressed the hope that this round of US-Iran consultations would help accelerate a final deal. Both sides see mounting domestic political pressures closing the space for prolonged negotiations, and have expressed increasing urgency at the need to reach a deal within the new deadline. But while each side praises the other’s seriousness, professionalism and desire to reach a deal, there are still difficulties, even in drafting a document of broad principles. Among the most challenging issues to overcome to reach an accord are those that have been problematic for the past year: the size of Iran’s enrichment capacity, the pace of sanctions relief, and the duration of a final deal.

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This article was written by Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on January 18,2015. Laura Rozen reports on foreign policy from Washington, DC, for Al-Monitor’s Back Channel. She has written for Yahoo! News, Politico and Foreign Policy. On Twitter: @LRozen


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