Time for West to Decide Between Agreement, Pressure

Time for West to  Decide Between  Agreement, Pressure Time for West to  Decide Between  Agreement, Pressure

The foreign minister says "great" progress has been made in the latest round of negotiations with major powers over Tehran's nuclear program, stressing that the West has an important decision to make about whether to focus its efforts on completing a final deal or intensifying pressure on Iran.

Asked to comment on his Thursday's meetings with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and his counterparts from the European powers and China, Mohammad Javad Zarif said, "We held very good talks…. We had a full review of all issues."  

"The progress was great compared to that at the beginning of the work" on bridging the remaining gaps, he was quoted by IRNA as telling reporters in Vienna on Friday.

There are many "technical" and "drafting" issues to be addressed before the final "political decision" is made, Zarif said, adding, "I have often said that western countries should decide which to be after: agreement or pressure."

"Occasionally, some problems arise in drafting (the text of the final pact) that probably reflect bureaucratic tendencies (on the part of the western side) to keep sanctions in place. We should overcome such problems."

  Austria President, Zarif Confer

Zarif met Austrian President Heinz Fischer on Friday to confer on the latest developments in negotiations, bilateral relations as well as the situation in the region. He thanked the Austrian government and nation for their hospitality in hosting the talks. Elsewhere, Zarif's deputy Abbas Araqchi stressed that the negotiating team is after a "good" deal and ruled out any agreement that involves compromising the red lines.

"What we are seeking is a deal that respects our red lines and demands. We are not bound by time, so time considerations will not make us accede to any demand or agreement."

IRNA said Mohammad Nahavandian, President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff, left Tehran on Friday to join the Iranian delegation in Vienna.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday some progress had been made in the latest round so far, Reuters reported.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said there was a "high possibility" Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) would succeed in reaching an accord in the coming days, though he cautioned that there were still difficult issues to resolve.

"We have confidence that finally the parties concerned will arrive at a fair, balanced and just solution," he said through an interpreter.

He added that they were "faced with some important and sensitive issues which no one can shy away from."

  Timeline for Sanctions Relief

An unnamed senior Iranian official told reporters on Thursday Iran and the six nations are discussing possible dates when key US, European Union and United Nations sanctions would be lifted and limits on nuclear activities put into effect.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov expressed confidence that the negotiating sides would achieve the final deal.

"We are sure that the deal will be reached and that it will be comprehensive, as stated in the title of the document," Ryabkov said, adding, "Not only me, but all other delegations (in Vienna) are determined to finish the job in the coming days. July 7 is the deadline, if we do it earlier, it is good for us, too."

Iranian and international negotiators, who missed a Tuesday's deadline to finalized the deal, have given themselves another week.

"I will not begin to forecast how many hours are needed to solve this matter. But each party is resolute on concluding this matter in the next few days without extensions," he was quoted by Sputnik as saying on Thursday.

Ryabkov rejected as "untrue" speculations that the text of the final pact has already been finalized.

"Rumors about some kind of finished text submitted to the political directors and foreign ministers for review are untrue." In defense of Iran's stance on the levels of access it should provide for UN inspectors to its facilities under the prospective accord, he said, "The current volume of inspections, in Russia's view, is more than enough to conclude that Iran does not have any programs or projects aimed at nuclear weaponization."