Talks With P5+1 to Resume Soon

Talks With P5+1 to Resume SoonTalks With P5+1 to Resume Soon

The nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers in New York ended with no "significant progress" and the negotiating parties decided to resume discussions in the near future, a source close to the nuclear negotiating team said on Saturday.   

The talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on a final comprehensive nuclear deal had started on September 19 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

Iran and the six major powers have set a target date of November 24 to work out a long-term settlement of the nuclear dispute, which has dragged on for over a decade.        

 Serious Atmosphere

“The talks were held in a completely serious and explicit atmosphere and the technical, political, and legal aspects of Iran’s nuclear program as well as sanctions were discussed,” IRNA quoted the source as saying.

“On the whole, the negotiations were useful and constructive, although no significant progress was made toward overcoming disagreements,” the source said, adding, “The two sides decided to resume consultations in the near future.”

  Bilateral US Talks

In addition, the source said the nuclear issue and the state of the Iranians imprisoned in the United States were discussed in bilateral talks with the US delegation.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran does not negotiate with the US government on any other issues, including the issue of extremism and Islamic State threats.”

Senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi also said on Friday that no agreement had been made on major issues, the Fars news agency reported.

“In some cases, good progress has been made on the details of technical issues and we have reached an understanding and there are some solutions, but on major issues, we have not reached a common understanding which can provide a base for an agreement,” the deputy foreign minister said.

  No Understanding on Major Issues

A senior US State Department official said on Friday that gaps “are still serious,” Reuters reported.

“We do not have an understanding on all major issues, we have some understandings that are helpful to move this process forward and we have an enormous number of details still to work through,” the official told reporters. “We still have some very, very difficult understandings yet to reach, and everyone has to make difficult decisions and we continue to look to Iran to make some of the ones necessary for getting to a comprehensive agreement,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another diplomat said Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China would likely meet again in the coming weeks, but no date and venue had been set.

President Hassan Rouhani said at a news conference in New York that the “progress we have witnessed in recent days has been extremely slow.”

“We must look forward to the future and make the courageous decisions vis-a-vis this problem,” he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also said, “It remains our fervent hope that Iran” and the six powers “can in the next weeks come to an agreement that would benefit the world.”

  High Level of Mistrust  

Despite a generally positive atmosphere which pervaded the New York talks, the Western diplomat said neither side has much confidence in the other.

“The level of mistrust is still pretty high.”

Kerry and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif late on Thursday and again on Friday to discuss next steps in the deadlocked negotiations, the Western diplomat said.

  Sharp Differences on Sanctions

In addition to enrichment, diplomats said the speed of lifting sanctions is a difficult issue, one on which Iranian and Western delegations have sharp differences.

The Western diplomat said the United States and Europeans were prepared to lift their unilateral sanctions very quickly in the event of an acceptable agreement, but UN measures would be ended gradually based on Iran’s compliance with any future deal.

“What they would like to see is to get rid of the Security Council sanctions very quickly, immediately,” he said. “But this is not exactly how we think.” He added, however, that Iran was underestimating the speed at which the Western powers were prepared to move on sanctions relief if an agreement is reached.

  Historic Opportunity

The diplomat said President Rouhani, who held bilateral meetings with top European officials in New York, had nothing to offer to move the talks forward.

“There was nothing really new from him,” the diplomat said. “He said we should not miss this historic opportunity over a couple of centrifuges. And by the way, we think the same way.”

Iran’s enrichment program, above all the number of enrichment centrifuges Tehran would be permitted to keep for the duration of any deal, is one of the major sticking points.

The Western diplomat said, “We are expecting significant moves on the Iranian side” if there is to be an agreement over the next two months.