Iran nuclear talks move towards historic point

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, March 29 (Xinhua) — As the March 31 deadline approaches, delegates from the P5+1 countries and Iran on Sunday continued their intensive negotiations to reach an understanding which could pave way for the final resolution of the long disputed Iranian nuclear issue.

The Russian, Chinese and UK foreign ministers joined the negotiations on Sunday, following French and German foreign ministers’ Saturday arrival in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

During a one-hour bilateral talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on all sides to seize the opportunity to show flexibility and strong political will to push the Iranian nuclear negotiations into fruition.

“Important progress have been made in the Iranian nuclear talks, and it is in every party’s interests to reach a common ground,” the Chinese top diplomat said.

During his talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Wang called on all sides to seek negotiation room amid focused sticking points, and to bridge gaps to find solutions which are acceptable to all parties.

Throughout Sunday, Wang also held intensive bilateral talks with his counterparts from France, Germany, the EU and Russia.

With the presence of the foreign ministers of the world’s major countries, all parties seem to agree that reaching an understanding by the end of March would be a pivotal step towards signing a final agreement by the June 30 deadline.

According to a senior diplomat source, key sticking points at this point include the details of when and how the lifting of UN and bilateral sanctions should be arranged in return for Iran’s assurance to curb nuclear-related activities.

Also Iran’s nuclear research and development ambitions and its nuclear enriching facilities in certain places remained a critical dispute to be addressed in the Lausanne talks.

For many western officials, since the opacity of Iran’s nuclear program still remained contentious, Iran’s full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is thus seen as an imperative if talks are to lead to a mutual understanding.

According to the source, much of the obstacles that prevented past negotiations from reaching their objective to find a viable point-by-point compromise have been removed, so the chance this time is really good to reach a framework achievement.

An anonymous negotiator told Xinhua that if the major things go well, the most possible time to “announce something” is the coming Monday.

However, whether the understanding will be a concrete document or a joint statement remained unknown.

On Nov. 24 of 2013, the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, plus Germany) and Iran reached a first-step agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, the Geneva 2013 Joint Plan of Action, which demanded Iran suspend some sensitive nuclear activities in exchange of limited sanction relief to buy time for the diplomatic effort to resolve the issue.

Since then, the P5+1 and Iran have twice missed self-imposed deadlines for a final and comprehensive accord, respectively in June and November last year, and the negotiators then set March 31 of 2015 as a new deadline for a political framework agreement and June 30 for the final deal.

From the beginning of 2015, the six major world countries have been negotiating with Iran almost nonstop, round after round and meeting after meeting, in an effort to put Iran’s nuclear program under international control in return for easing of sanctions.

By Xinhua