Bridging the Gaps in Vienna

Bridging the  Gaps in ViennaBridging the  Gaps in Vienna

Senior diplomats from Iran and its international negotiating partners held bilateral and multilateral meetings in Vienna on Sunday to narrow significant differences on a final nuclear deal which is to be completed by a looming self-imposed June 30 deadline.  

The negotiators are trying to help bridge the remaining gaps to clinch the deal, which would lift sanctions with Iran accepting temporary constraints on its nuclear program in return.

Zarif met separately with his US counterpart John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Sunday.

IRNA quoted a source close to the negotiating team as saying Zarif would come to Tehran on Sunday night and return to Vienna after a one-day stay.

Kerry said he would stay in Vienna until the end of the negotiations. Upon arrival in the Austrian capital on Sunday, Mogherini told reporters it is not impossible to get the deal but tough days lay ahead until Tuesday, the day the deadline expires.

"It is going to be tough... but not impossible. It is a matter of political will," she said.

Diplomats have said there is little chance of an accord by the deadline and expect the talks to spill over into July.   

“If a few days more are needed we will take them,” Mogherini said before meeting the US, British, German and French foreign ministers, Reuters reported.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also talked to reporters when he arrived in Vienna on Sunday.

“There are a number of different areas where we still have major differences of interpretation in detailing what was agreed in Lausanne,” he said.

Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) reached an agreement on the framework of the prospective pact in early April in Lausanne.             


“There is going to have to be some give or take if we are to get this done in the next few days,” Hammond said, adding, “No deal is better than a bad deal”.

On arrival, China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong called on all parties involved in the talks to show “political will” to make the deal possible, Fars news agency reported.

The main differences are on the pace and timing of sanctions relief and the nature of mechanisms for monitoring Tehran’s nuclear activities. US and European negotiators also want to ensure there is a mechanism for restoring US, European Union and United Nations sanctions if Tehran fails to meet its commitments under any future accord.  

“I can’t tell you how long it will be. What I can tell you is that we don’t want to have an extension of the talks,” said a senior western diplomat. France’s foreign minister said on Saturday an accord remained elusive due to disagreements over fundamental issues.

“What we want is a robust deal that recognizes Iran’s right to civil nuclear power but guarantees that” Tehran’s nuclear program will remain peaceful, Laurent Fabius said.  

For this there are three “indispensable” conditions, he said: A lasting limitation of Iran’s research and development capacity, rigorous inspections of sites and the automatic return of sanctions if Iran violates its commitments.

“These three conditions respect Iran’s sovereignty. They have still not been accepted by everybody, yet they form the key base of the triangle that forms the robust agreement that we want,” he added.

Iran has ruled out long-term restrictions on its nuclear research and development program and inspection of its military sites as part of any settlement. According to the UN nuclear agency’s reports, it has met all its commitments under an interim deal it signed with the six major powers in Geneva in late 2013.