talks

Marathon talks on Iran nuclear program awaiting Pay-Off

Saturday in Vienna saw meetings between almost all P5+1 foreign ministers, preparing grounds for a full-fledged ministerial meeting to finally strike a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

VIENNA (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko, Daria Chernyshova — US Secretary of State John Kerry held separate meetings with counterparts from Britain, Germany and Iran — Philip Hammond, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Mohammad Javad Zarif. Kerry, Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini met in the Palais Coburg hotel.

Only Russian and Chinese foreign ministers are missing in Vienna to start a joint meeting of all the P5+1 top diplomats to put an end to Iran nuclear talks. Both Sergei Lavrov and Wang Yi are expected to arrive on Sunday.

Prior to his expected arrival to Vienna, the Russian foreign minister held a phone conversation with Kerry on the ongoing talks.

The deadline for reaching the final comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program has been postponed twice over the past week, and now stands at July 13. Also, because the sides have missed the July 10 deadline, US Congress now has 60 days instead of one month to review the deal if it is reached.

So far, major sticking points at the negotiations remain unresolved, and parties to the talks seem to be less optimistic about reaching a deal in near future than a week ago. After meeting with Mogherini and Zarif, Kerry said earlier on Saturday that difficult issues are still in place.

Iranian leadership also does not seem to be in a rush to strike a deal. On Friday, Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader reiterated that Tehran’s red lines at the talks should be respected, and condemned the US “psychological war” against Tehran, according to Tasnim news agency.

“Iran neither suggests extension of talks, nor rejects it,” Velayati said.

Major stumbling blocks at the talks relate to the scope of the access to military sites, the limits of allowed nuclear research, and the process of lifting the sanctions and UN-imposed arms embargo against Iran.

The deal is not ready yet, but according to various sources from the delegations, it will contain 100 pages, full of technical and legal details.