More Work Needed for Final Nuclear Settlement

More Work Needed for Final Nuclear Settlement   More Work Needed for Final Nuclear Settlement

Commitments offered by Iran in talks with the six major powers on its nuclear program do not go far enough and more work needs to be done, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday.

“We are in favor of a solid agreement ... for now there remain difficulties,” Fabius told reporters in Riga where he was taking part in a European Union foreign ministers’ meeting.

“There has been progress but as far as the volume, checks and duration of the envisaged commitments are concerned, the situation is still insufficient, so there is more work to be done,” Reuters quoted him as saying.  

Fabius, US Secretary of State John Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond held a meeting in Paris on Saturday to review the state of the Iran nuclear negotiations.

The participants in Saturday’s talks in Paris were the Western members of the six powers negotiating with Iran.

The six powers, also including China and Russia, have given themselves an end-June deadline to reach an agreement that would place temporary constraints on Iranian nuclear work in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. The western powers hope to have a political framework agreement by the end of March.

The West claims Iran may be secretly preparing the way for production of nuclear weapons. Iran denies the allegation, saying its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Fabius took a more downbeat view of the Iran talks than Mogherini, who said earlier in the Latvian capital that a good deal was at hand in the negotiations.

“I also believe that there is not going to be any deal if it is not going to be a good deal. And this is something we have to pass as a message to all our friends and partners,” Mogherini said in apparent reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the nuclear deal under negotiation.

Mogherini said the “last mile” of the nuclear talks would involve political will more than technical negotiations.

  Right Deal

Speaking after talks with the French foreign minister on Saturday, Kerry said he did not feel a sense of urgency to get any deal with Iran, saying “we have to get the right deal.”

The United States and France are “on the same page” that the nuclear deal under discussion with Iran needs to be strengthened, he added. In a press briefing on Friday, US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said she shared Mogherini’s assessment that a good deal was possible.  

“We’re not going to accept a bad one. There are still roadblocks we are trying to overcome, but we believe we can get there by the end of March,” she said, according to a transcript of her remarks posted on the website of the US Department of State.  

Asked what the US is doing to reassure its allies that the agreement with Iran would not be a rush deal, Harf said, “This notion that we’re somehow rushing to a deal is just not borne out by the facts here.”

“We’ve extended the Joint Plan of Action (the interim deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 in November 2013) twice, we could have taken a bad deal either time, and we didn’t. We are going to take the time to do this right. But I think you’ve also heard the president and the secretary say we’re not going to negotiate forever, and that Iran has to make some fundamental decisions here, and we’ll see if they can.”