Lavrov: P5+1 Talks on Right Track

Lavrov: P5+1 Talks on Right Track  Lavrov: P5+1 Talks on Right Track

Talks on Iran's nuclear program are moving in the right direction while key points remain to be settled ahead of the November deadline to reach a final deal, Russia’s top diplomat said.

“Some 95 percent of the deal is agreed,” though the remaining five percent consists of “two or three very difficult issues,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Saturday in New York.

Iran and the so-called P5+1, made up of China, France, Russia, the UK, US, and Germany, began negotiations in New York more than a week ago, which continued on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly until Friday. An initial July deadline was extended to November 24 after talks stalled amid divisions over the number of centrifuges Tehran would be able to keep to enrich uranium and the extent of international control over its nuclear program.

  Time is Short  

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday described the dialogue as “serious, intense and very frank,” and said the participants will have to try even more during the next two months.  

“Time is short, but issues are not that difficult to resolve,” Zarif told reporters in New York. “Everything is very far and very close, it depends on how you look at it and what time of the day you start looking at this question. We are still apart, there are still quite a bit of differences on all these issues.”

  Russian Proposal

Russia has put forward proposals to break the impasse and other parties have shown an interest in them, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who is serving as his country’s chief negotiator in the talks.

“We made some progress on practically all aspects that need more attention, partly thanks to new ideas put forward by Russia,” Ryabkov said in New York on Saturday, without elaborating on Russia’s plan. He said he’s confident an accord can be reached on enrichment levels, though “so far there hasn’t been the political will to make that final step.”

Iran and the six world powers will review the results of the latest talks and set a date for a new round next week, he said. Zarif said the talks may be somewhere in Europe, “because New York is too far.”

  Cautious Optimism  

The US and its allies claim Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology may conceal efforts to gain nuclear weapons, while Iran maintains that its program is only for civilian use. President Hassan Rouhani said at a September 26 news conference that talks in recent days had been progressing very slowly and “significant steps” would be needed to reach a deal by the deadline. Lavrov said while the sticking points are difficult from the standpoint of making a political decision to compromise, he remained “cautiously optimistic.”