Moscow Concerned About Slowdown in P5+1 Talks

Moscow Concerned About  Slowdown in P5+1 Talks Moscow Concerned About  Slowdown in P5+1 Talks

Russia is concerned about a slowdown in the progress of the Iran nuclear talks as the sides are still in a deadlock over remaining key issues, including lifting of sanctions and access to Iranian facilities, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday.

"Unfortunately, the progress pace…is slowing down. It worries us more and more because the time left to the deadline (of June 30) is getting short, and we must step on the final stretch as soon as possible," Ryabkov, who is Russia's top negotiator at the nuclear talks, told journalists upon arrival in Vienna for a fresh round of negotiations at the level of political directors, Sputnik reported.

The sides are still to resolve some major differences, including the sequencing of sanctions relief and access to Iranian nuclear sites for international monitors. Tehran is opposed to allowing inspectors into military sites.

The P5+1 (the five permanent member of the UN Security Council plus Germany) and Iran have not determined yet a detailed approach to the reconfiguration of the controversial nuclear reactor in Arak much less the financing of the project, bringing the progress in the nuclear talks to a virtual standstill, Ryabkov said.

"The P5+1 and Iran have reached understanding about the future configuration of the heavy water reactor in Arak, but the sides are still unclear on who will reconfigure the reactor, when, how and with what kind of financing."

"Without answering these questions, we will not be able to move forward toward the final agreements," Ryabkov said.

He also said the issue of P5+1 ministers' participation in the negotiations will be raised at the next meeting of the group of international mediators.

"The issue of when ministers can join the negotiation process will be raised at the meeting of the sextet."

On a monitoring and verification regime under a prospective nuclear accord, Ryabkov said the only solution to the issue of allowing regulated access to Iranian nuclear facilities is the implementation of the framework agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, referring to a cooperation agreement Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog signed in late 2013.

"The only acceptable and universal solution of the issue is the Iran-IAEA framework document and the continuation of the discussions on how this document will be used for future agreements which… will give the IAEA very large tasks."    

According to Ryabkov, only regulated access is being discussed, not inspections or interrogations.

Iran and the six major powers (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) are in talks to finalize a long-term settlement to the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear program by the end of this month building on a preliminary agreement they reached in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2.