Foreign Ministers arrived in Vienna yesterday to accelerate the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear development, but Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that there had been “no breakthrough yet” in the talks.
Iran and the P5+1 (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) agreed a framework to a comprehensive nuclear deal in April. This paved the way for negotiations towards a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which was to be concluded by 30 June. However, with the deadline having passed, the US State Department announced earlier this week that talks will continue up until 7 July. It is thought that any deal will need to be completed and submitted to US Congress for review by 9 July. Should it be submitted any later, Congress will be permitted 60 days to consider an agreement rather than 30, potentially holding back its implementation.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has been locked in direct talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif for much of the week. Yesterday, Hammond arrived in Vienna as did his counterparts from France, Germany and China. However, fundamental differences between Iran and the P5+1 apparently remain over key issues such as the pace of sanctions relief and provision for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.
Hammond commented yesterday, “The work goes on. You are going to see ministers coming and going to maintain the momentum of these discussions. I don’t think we’re at any kind of breakthrough moment yet and we will do whatever we need to do to keep the momentum.” Also yesterday, Iranian leaders met in Iran with Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA to discuss the possible dimensions of international inspections of Iranian facilities.
However, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday warned once again that the nascent agreement will not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He said, “Iran, this extreme state that spreads terrorism around the world is being given the ability to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal.”