AEOI Chief, US Energy Secretary Join Geneva Talks

AEOI Chief, US Energy Secretary Join Geneva TalksAEOI Chief, US Energy Secretary Join Geneva Talks

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) director Ali Akbar Salehi and US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz joined the ongoing nuclear talks in Geneva on Saturday in a move that could help remove technical obstacles in the way of a comprehensive deal to resolve the 12-year standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.  

AEOI spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi had earlier said Salehi and Moniz were scheduled to hold consultations on the technical aspects of the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers.         

The Associated Press quoted western officials as saying that the US decided to send Moniz only after Iran announced that Salehi will be coming. It said their presence could improve chances of a deal by fast-tracking complex technical details of constraints on Iran’s nuclear program that are acceptable to Tehran.

The AP also said they were expected to discuss the number of centrifuges Iran can operate to enrich uranium; how much enriched material it can stockpile; what research and development it may pursue related to enrichment, and the future of a planned heavy water reactor.

  Looking for Innovation

Meanwhile, the deputy foreign minister said the nuclear negotiators are in pursuit of innovative ideas to help advance efforts to find a settlement to the long-running nuclear dispute.  

“We are looking for innovations and breakthroughs in the manner and form of conducting negotiations to speed up the work,” Abbas Araqchi said in an interview with Iranian state television, Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

On the meetings between Iranian, US and EU negotiators which were held in Geneva on Friday and Saturday, the senior diplomat said, “The talks were positive and serious. It does not mean that we made significant progress, but discussions are intensive.”  

Araqchi and Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi headed the Iranian delegation in the Geneva talks, while the US delegation was led by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. European Union political director Helga Schmid was also present at the talks.      

Araqchi also said, “After one year of talks on all aspects and issues, we are in a situation that we should go into details so that we can reach a final agreement that includes general points and details together.”

“This situation requires us to hold intensive and lengthy talks.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei recently called for a “transparent”, “clear” and “single-stage” nuclear agreement that includes general terms and details together so that it will not “provide the other party with an opportunity to be able to bargain on different aspects of a deal.”

Elsewhere, Araqchi said Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) will hold a meeting at the level of deputy foreign ministers and political directors on Sunday, adding that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry will also meet in the Swiss city on Sunday and Monday.  

Iran and the six major powers (the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany) are in talks to build on an interim deal they reached in Geneva in November 2013 to work out a final accord, which would place constraints on Tehran’s nuclear activities for a specified period of time in exchange for the phasing out of sanctions. They are set to reach a political understanding on the basic framework of a final settlement by the end of March and finalize details until June 30.