Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry met for six hours in Geneva on Saturday, hoping to resolve issues in the final drafting of a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
The session came after the fifth round of talks between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) since a nuclear framework was announced on April 2. The drafting was adjourned on Friday in Vienna, and will resume there on Thursday.
Leading issues including the timing of the removal of US, European Union, and UN sanctions in return for Iran’s limitations on nuclear facilities and uranium enrichment. A public dispute has also arisen over inspections of Tehran’s military sites.
No details were given of Saturday’s session. A “senior State Department official” said, “Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif, along with their teams, had a thorough and comprehensive discussion of all of the issues today.”
The official said that the US hoped the deal could be completed by a June 30 deadline: “We really do believe we can get it done by [the] 30th and we’re not contemplating an extension. We just aren’t.”
Zarif was cautious, telling reporters, “We will try….We decided to work full-time during the next three or four weeks to see whether it is possible to reach an agreement or not.”
Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, and French officials have said that talks may be extended beyond June 30 for a final resolution.
However, the State Department official joined French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in declaring that inspections of Iranian military sites must be in the deal: “We’re not going to sign [otherwise].”
The issue of unlimited access was raised by International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano in early May. Iranian officials immeidately responded that they would not agree to any unrestricted inspections, although Tehran would accede to the Additional Protocol of the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.
Deputy Foreign Minister Araqchi repeated on Saturday:
The issue of interviews with nuclear scientists is generally off the table as well as the inspection of military sites. How [the] additional protocol would be implemented is still a matter of disagreement that we are still talking about.
The Supreme Leader’s top aide, Ali Akbar Velayati, lashed out at the French and Foreign Minister Fabius on Saturday: “France does not play any determining role on the international scene other than the harsh statements it makes through some individuals who do not feel responsible
Saying that Paris made “radical statements to please their allies in the region to secure their economic deals”, he asked, “What role can their agreement or disagreement play?”
Top Official Shamkhani Sets Out Iran’s “Red Lines” on Islamic State and Iraq
The Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, has spoken on State TV of Iran’s “three red lines” over rhw Islamic State’s advance in Iraq.
Shamkhani said that the Islamic State’s “threats against Baghdad”, attacking on holy shrines of Shia Islam, or advance towards the Iranian borders would not be tolerated.
Iranian officials have made a series of statements in the past week pointing to an escalated political and military involvement, following the Islamic State’s capture of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province.
Iranian commanders and forces have been involved along the Iraqi army and Shia militias since the Islamic State’s advance across northern and eastern Iraq in June 2014.
Shamkhani insisted that Iran’s intervention had “weaken[ed] the terrorist groups” and that the Islamic State was “now very vulnerable”.
By EA WorldView