Iran, world powers aim for breakthrough at nuke talks

The foreign ministers of the Islamic Republic, six world powers will meet on Monday in an attempt to bridge remaining differences; Iran’s deputy foreign minister: two-three unresolved issues remain.

LAUSANNE – The foreign ministers of Iran and the six world powers – the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – will meet on Monday morning in Lausanne in an attempt to reach a breakthrough and bridge the differences that still persist in the nuclear talks between the sides.

Ahead of the meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign ministers of the world powers held a meeting Sunday evening in order to coordinate. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who arrived on Sunday at the Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, said that a deal is within reach, yet in order to clinch it Iran would have to made some hard decisions.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said in an interview to Iranian television that the Islamic Republic has demonstrated political will and flexibility, and now it’s the powers’ turn to show good will and make decisions, particularly in regard to the Iranian demand to remove sanctions. According to Araghchi, progress was made in the talks Sunday but there are still two or three unresolved issues.

Araghchi stressed Iran’s demand to scrap all six Security Council decisions that were made in the past decade and which imposed harsh sanctions on Tehran. He added that the option of transferring Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to a level of 3.5-5 percent out of the country is not on the table.

‘Gaps remain’

Senior U.S. officials taking part at the nuclear talks said in a briefing that there are still gaps and differences with the Islamic Republic on a variety of issues. According to the officials, the negotiations are expected to go on until the final minutes of March 31 – the date set for the final deadline for reaching an agreement.

The American officials said that the differences remaining have to do with the duration of the agreement between Iran and the world powers. The figures range between an agreement that would last 11 years and a deal that would last 15 years. The Iranians are aiming for the shortest time frame possible, while the world powers would like to see as longer a time frame as possible.

According to the American officials, differences also remain over Iran’s research and development activities with advanced centrifuges. World powers would also like to limit those activities as part of the agreement, while Iran insists on carrying on. Furthermore., there are differences over the pace of the removal of sanctions from the Islamic Republic, especially in light of the Iranian demand to immediately turnover all sanctions, including those imposed by the UN Security Council.

This article was written by Barak Ravid for Haaretz on Mar. 29, 2015. Barak Ravid is the diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz newspaper. He joined Haaretz in April 2007, covering the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Defense, dealing with issues such as U.S.-Israeli relations, EU-Israeli relations and the peace process.