P5+1 and Iran nuclear talks extended by four months


Talks between the P5+1 powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme concluded yesterday with an agreement to extend negotiations by a further four months.

Iran and the P5+1 concluded a six-month agreement in Geneva in November, which saw Tehran reduce some of its enrichment capacity in return for a loosening of selected sanctions. However, both sides are now looking to broker a longer-term settlement and agreed to a 20 July deadline to reach such an agreement. The latest round of talks, which began on 2 July, concluded yesterday with an agreement to extend the talks until 24 November.

Reuters says that the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report indicates that Iran has complied with the six-month Geneva agreement, quoting an unnamed US official who called it “a success in halting the progress of the Iranian program and rolling it back in exchange for a relatively modest relief.”

As a result, the terms of the six-month deal will roll over to be applied during the coming four months. US Secretary of State John Kerry emphasised that, “just as we have over the last six months, we will continue to vigorously enforce the sanctions that remain in place.” In addition, the two sides have agreed that a further £1.6 billion in Iranian assets will be unfrozen. In return, Iran will convert 20 per cent uranium oxide into fuel plates, making it virtually impossible to use it as weapons-grade material.

However, significant disagreement remains on a number of issues, especially over the number of centrifuges Iran would be permitted under the terms of a long-term deal. The P5+1 powers want Tehran to reduce its number of centrifuges to 5,000 while Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei recently said that his country needs 190,000 centrifuges. The Times quotes German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said, “These few months until November could be the last and best chance for a long time to end the nuclear argument peacefully.”