Next 2 Weeks 'Decisive' for Iran Nuclear Deal

Next 2 Weeks 'Decisive' for Iran Nuclear Deal Next 2 Weeks 'Decisive' for Iran Nuclear Deal

Reaching an agreement on Iran's nuclear program is essential not only for security in the Middle East but also for global security, said European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.   

Mogherini told journalists on Saturday that the next two weeks in the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) would be "decisive" in the process of concluding a deal on Tehran's nuclear program, Sputnik reported.  

She pledged to make her best efforts to facilitate the negotiations.

The top EU official also called the opportunity for a deal with Iran "historic" and said more work was needed to be done in the coming days and weeks on issues that had yet to be resolved, according to AFP.

Mogherini, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, US Secretary of State John Kerry, 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 the Paris talks 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 work out a comprehensive deal to resolve the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear activities, which would place temporary constraints on Iranian nuclear work in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. The western powers hope to reach a political understanding with Tehran by the end of this month.

Iran denies the allegation by the western powers that it may be seeking to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear work is solely for peaceful purposes, including generating electricity.  

  Coordinating Political Decisions

In a press release, the British Foreign Office said the main purpose of the Paris meeting was to consult over the nuclear talks.

"Ministers agreed that the next few weeks would be particularly important given the goal of achieving a political understanding before the end of March. They identified some areas of progress, but also a number of difficult issues which would have to be resolved if a deal was to be reached," it said.

After the meeting, the British foreign secretary said, "This was a useful opportunity to coordinate our political positions. All the ministers were clear that we could only reach an agreement with Iran if it delivered our minimum break-out requirement."

Iran's "breakout" time is defined as how long it would take it to produce fissile material for one nuclear bomb if it decided to build such weapons. Iran denies its nuclear program may have any military objectives.

"The UK will work hard with its partners to achieve this since the benefits of a strong deal would be great for both sides and, in our view, for the region as a whole. But the outcome is still uncertain. Iran is going to have to move further in order to reach a deal which works for us all," Hammond said.  

  Solid Agreement

In a joint press conference with the French foreign minister after the meeting, Kerry said the major powers want a "solid" agreement with Iran.

"As Foreign Minister Fabius said… we want an agreement that's solid. We want an agreement that will guarantee that we are holding any kind of program that continues in Iran accountable to the highest standards so that we know that it is, in fact, a peaceful program," he said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the website of the US Department of State.

He also said, "We have made progress, but there remain gaps… And we need to close those gaps. And that is our goal over the course of the next days. We have a critical couple of weeks ahead of us.

"We're all mindful that the days are ticking by. But we're not feeling a sense of urgency that we have to get any deal. We have to get the right deal.

"It is frankly up to Iran – that wants this program, that wants a peaceful program, that asserts that they have a peaceful program – to show the world that it is indeed exactly what they say."

In addition, Kerry said, "We planned a return to the talks. Starting next Sunday, different folks will be having different conversations, and we look forward to trying to drive this thing to an appropriate conclusion. And we will find out whether or not Iran is prepared to take the steps to answer the questions that the world has a right to get answers to."