Iran and the six world powers have started drafting the final nuclear deal despite a lack of agreement on major issues, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday, asking the sextet to be realistic and stop raising excessive demands.
Speaking to reporters after the latest round of talks with the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) in Vienna on Friday, Zarif said although the seven nations have started compiling the draft deal, the harsh stance taken by the western powers, which is reflected in their excessive and maximum demands show that they are not fully ready to enter serious negotiations to attain a final solution to the decade-old standoff.
He stressed that Iran would not give up its rights, and would continue resistance until restoring all its nuclear rights.
Yet, he said the seven nations are now working on the introduction to the deal.
“We have entered the phase of drafting the agreement, but we can’t say we have agreed on a common thing as we have not reached an understanding over essential subjects,” Zarif told reporters after four days of talks in Vienna on Friday afternoon.
“The talks were intensive and still continue. The discussions started this morning with my meeting with Mrs Ashton and now Mr Araqchi and Ravanchi and the rest of our team are working on the introduction of the text (of the final deal) with Ashton’s deputy,” he added.
“The introduction deals with the goals, frameworks and mechanisms and the way differences can be resolved,” Zarif said, adding that attaining agreement over the introduction of the text of the final deal is likely.
Zarif said although the seven nations have started drafting the deal, “we can’t say that we have a common text as in many items there are different views over the content and the way the agreement should be written”.
The Iranian foreign minister complained that “the opposite side has not attended the talks with the needed preparedness to enter serious negotiations on the basis of the realities”.
He said Iran has offered solutions to some differences based on the Geneva interim deal, but the opposite side is raising “excessive demands and Iran will not give up the Iranian nation’s interests and rights due to these excessive demands”.
He said Iran has always held logical stances and demands based on the international laws and solutions which are based on the previous agreements, “and we stand firm on our words”.
Zarif reiterated Iran’s goodwill, and said Tehran is serious about a deal.
The Iranian lead negotiator said his team has worked hundreds of hours on the text, adding that Tehran and the six powers have so far worked ten hours on the draft jointly.
He said the next round of the talks will start in Vienna on July 2, “and we will continue the negotiations as long as they are useful and needed and until achievement of the results.”
He asked the West to be realistic, and reminded that the International Atomic Energy Agency has announced earlier today that Iran has complied with its undertakings, which proved Iran’s goodwill.
Zarif complained that during the talks only the maximalist and excessive demands of one of the powers is raised, and asked the 5+1 members to work more among themselves to reach a common stance which would help the negotiations move towards a solution.
“Position-taking would not lead to an agreement, we have come here to attain a solution,” Zarif said, adding that Iran has presented a specific definition for its practical needs, and the other side should also think of a solution to the “unnecessary” decade-old crisis and problem instead of chanting slogans which are good only for interviews for domestic consumption and satisfying certain parties.
He once again stressed the need for the removal of all sanctions, and said “I am still hopeful about (attaining a) solution because I believe the issue is not complex”.
The Iranian foreign minister also criticized the world powers for their slow and delayed compliance with their undertakings under the Geneva interim nuclear deal.
In November 2013, Iran and the six world powers signed an interim nuclear deal in the Swiss city of Geneva that came into force on January 20. The seven nations also agreed on July 20 deadline to work out a final agreement.
Since the November deal, the seven nations have been discussing ways to iron out differences and start drafting a final deal that would end the West’s dispute with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program.
But after the seven nations ended their monthly meetings in May, Iran said there has been no tangible progress in writing the draft text of the agreement and it blamed the US for the failure, saying Washington has made excessive demands beyond the agreements made in the previous rounds of talks.
Last week, Iran and several members of the G5+1 held a series of bilateral talks to narrow down their differences before the start of the multilateral negotiations in Vienna on June 16. Zarif and his accompanying team of negotiators arrived in Vienna Monday morning to participate in the fifth round of talks between Tehran and the six major world powers in the Austrian capital from June 16-20.
Prior to the start of this round of talks, both Iran and the world powers had repeatedly stressed that they were resolved to start drafting the long-awaited final deal in this round of talks.
Upon arrival at Vienna airport, Zarif told reporters that Iran and the G5+1 have one month to reach a comprehensive deal and “if the other side is ready, we will (also) be prepared to draft the final agreement”.
“Whenever the other side is ready to enter talks seriously, there will be a possibility for reaching results,” he added.
Zarif also noted the fatwa (religious decree) issued by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei against the production and use of the nuclear weapons, and said it provides an “objective guarantee” to ensure the opposite sides that Iran’s nuclear program will remain peaceful.
Then after several bilateral meetings with the EU foreign policy chief, Zarif announced on Wednesday night that Tehran and the world powers have started drafting the final deal, but he criticized the other side for adopting unacceptable positions which make the negotiations difficult.
“Iran and the G5+1 have started writing the text of a final agreement,” Zarif said.
Noting that the two sides had tough discussions over the past two days of talks in Vienna, he said, “Some stances of the other side are completely unacceptable.”
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi accompanied by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi and EU foreign policy deputy chief Helga Schmidt had several rounds of talks in Vienna in the last four days.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday night after holding negotiations with the representatives of the G5+1, Araqchi described the atmosphere of the talks as positive.
“The meetings are held intensely and the discussions are made in a constructive and positive atmosphere,” he said.
The senior negotiator expressed the hope that the two sides would reach an initial general text in this round even if some differences still remain in place.
Asked about the common points and differences between Iran and the G5+1, Araqchi said both sides agree the continuation of Iran’s enrichment program and the removal of sanctions, while they hold different views on the operation of Iran’s heavy water reactor in Arak and Fordo enrichment facility.
He pointed to the presence of US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in this round of talks and his meeting with Zarif in the presence of EU foreign policy chief Catherin Ashton in Vienna on Monday, and said the US delegation is headed by Wendy Sherman who is Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and she participates in the negotiations, but the presence of Mr. Burns was useful and it may be repeated in future.
Araqchi underlined that no other issue than Iran’s nuclear program is discussed in the talks between Iran and the G5+1, adding that the other side still maintains its past positions and sometimes raises excessive demands which makes reaching an agreement difficult.
He said that Iran seeks the removal of all sanctions against the country but the two sides haven’t been able to agree on the timeline and arrangements for such a move.