Michael Mann, the Spokesman for the EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, underlined that Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) had “tough, complicated and precise” negotiations in their three-day meetings which ended Friday.
“We had three days of tough work. As we have said before, the negotiations are complicated and precise and we are trying to compile an agreement,” Mann told FNA early Saturday, hours after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Ashton ended their last meeting in Vienna on Friday evening without holding any press conference.
Asked why Zarif and Ashton had called off their joint press conference, Mann said, “Nothing has been agreed. (We will announce it) when everything is agreed upon. That’s the reason we don’t want to break things into pieces and announce after any meeting where we are.”
After three days of talks, Iran’s deputy chief negotiator Seyed Abbas Araqchi said on Friday evening that the Vienna nuclear talks with the world powers will continue until achievement of results, but meantime reiterated that Iran will not accept a discussion of its defense program and will only agree to a deal which respects its rights.
Speaking to reporters after three days of intensive negotiations with the delegations of the six world powers in Vienna on Friday night, Araqchi, also a deputy foreign minister, said, “The nuclear talks ended an hour ago, and the negotiations were very serious.”
“Our discussions were more or less free from tension, and everyone favors attainment of a final agreement,” he explained.
Araqchi pointed out that “the generalities, the framework and principles have already been agreed in the Geneva deal. Thus, We intended to start drafting the deal, but we couldn’t due to some wide differences”.
“Drafting the deal will be impossible until we reach a single view about all issues,” he continued.
Yet, the senior negotiator voiced pleasure in the trend of the talks, saying, “The trend of the talks is good and constructive, but has not led to any specific result yet. The talks continue and have not failed.”
“No tangible results were made, but talks will continue.”
Asked about the cause of the differences, Araqchi rejected the reports by some western media outlets claiming that Iran and the world powers hold different views over 13 topics, and said such reports “are just speculations and should not receive attention”.
He said the differences are even more in number. “Differences exist; were there no difference, there wouldn’t be any need to negotiation. Our duty is resolving these differences, bringing views closer and working out a single text (for a final agreement). There was no specific progress in the first session, and this is not unnatural; we hope to make up for that in other sessions.”
The deputy chief negotiator said Iran will not retreat. “We stand firm on our rights. We will have 6 more months if we fail to work out a deal by July 20.”
He said Iran will not allow a discussion of its missile or defense program in the nuclear talks. “Our defense equipment can no way go under discussion in the negotiations.”
Araqchi stressed that Iran is not in a rush to push the talks into a final phase of concluding an agreement at any price. “There is no push to obtain an agreement by July 20 at any price.”
“We (only) concede to an agreement which will be in line with our interests, meet our demands and establish the Iranian nation’s rights,” he continued.
“Yet, there is still a chance for striking a deal by July 20 only if our demands are met and our people’s nuclear rights are observed,” he reiterated.
“If we come to conclude such an agreement by July 20, it will be good, but if we won’t, that would not mean a catastrophe and that wouldn’t be the end of the world, (as) we will have 6 more months to negotiate.”
“We hope that the talks continue in a logical, rational and realistic manner and yield result within the deadline.”
Asked if the Ukrainian crisis has affected the trend or results of the nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers, Araqchi said the Ukraine issue is a very serious global challenge, but it has not affected the Iran-powers nuclear talks. “All parties, including the Russian side, want the (Iran nuclear) talks to remain unaffected by any other issue, including the Ukrainian issue… .”
He said the nuclear talks will be continued at different levels, “depending on the needs and topics of the sessions; the negotiations should continue as much as needed, we are ready and there have been some planning in this regard”.
Senior diplomats of Iran and the six world powers convened in Vienna on Wednesday for another round of negotiations on a permanent and final solution to their nuclear standoff.
The Iranian negotiators had several rounds of bilateral talks with the delegations of the EU and the Group 5+1, including a rather lengthy meeting with the US team, in the last three days.
A few hours before Araqchi’s final statements to reporters, a senior diplomat close to the Iranian team of negotiators urged the Western states to stop their excessive demands, reiterating that Iran is standing firm on its rights.
“The West should give up its excessive demands and gather a precise assessment of the realities existing on the ground,” the diplomat told FNA in Vienna on Friday afternoon, stressing that the policy of pressuring Iran has always proved futile and backfired.
The source said the Iranian negotiators have come to Vienna to establish the nation’s rights, reiterating that they would never retreat along this path.
He said “difference in views, specially around such a vital discussion as Iran’s nuclear issue, is considered to be natural”, but “given the recent developments, the western states are displaying that they are not practicing the pragmatism that seemed to have developed in them to a certain level”.
Yet, the diplomat underlined that “the window of opportunity is still open for the western parties to step onto the realm of pragmatism”.
When Zarif, and his team of aides and experts, arrived in Vienna, he told reporters Tehran would participate in the talks with firm determination.
“We have come here with a decisive will” and seek to defend the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights, Zarif said.
Noting that Iran and the G5+1 are scheduled to hold three other rounds of talks by July 20, he said none of the seven delegations had prepared any draft agreement, although they had certain issues in mind.
Then after two days of talks with the top negotiators of the sextet, Zarif hoped Friday morning that the opposite parties would be as determined as Tehran for striking a final nuclear deal in Vienna.
“The will is the most important parameter for success in any negotiation and we are determined and we hope that our counterparts will also be the same,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter page on Friday morning.
On Thursday, Araqchi said the nuclear talks in the Austrian capital were “slow and very difficult, although dominated by an atmosphere of good will”.
Earlier on Thursday, Mann voiced satisfaction in the outcomes of the morning meeting between Zarif and Ashton, saying the talks were “useful”.
“Well, it was a useful meeting,” Mann said in a phone interview with FNA on Thursday afternoon.
The negotiations between Tehran and the Group 5+1 are part of efforts to seal a final deal on Iran’s nuclear energy program.
On November 24, Iran and the Group 5+1 sealed a six-month Joint Plan of Action to lay the groundwork for the full resolution of the West’s decade-old dispute with Iran over the latter’s nuclear energy program.
In exchange for Tehran’s confidence-building bid to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities, the sextet of the world powers agreed to lift some of the existing sanctions against Tehran and impose no nuclear-related sanctions on Iran during the six-month period.
Following the breakthrough interim agreement, Iran and the sextet accepted to send their senior negotiating teams to monthly meetings to discuss a final and comprehensive deal until July. If the seven nations fail to agree on a final deal by then, the Geneva interim agreement will be extended for another 6 months.
Since the November agreement, the seven delegations have met several times, including the last round in Vienna on April 8 and 9.
At the beginning of the last round of the talks on April 8, the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement reiterating that its team of negotiators would not discuss any topic but the country’s nuclear standoff with the West in its talks with the six world powers.
This round of the talks was the first Iran-powers meeting focused on drafting a final deal.